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Elderly residents being ‘held to ransom’ over online council services

PUBLISHED: 14:13 28 September 2016 | UPDATED: 14:13 28 September 2016

Fred D'Arcy says the council should do more for residents without access to a computer

Fred D'Arcy says the council should do more for residents without access to a computer

Archant

A resident has hit out at computer-based services after he was unable to obtain a parking permit

A Bexley man has hit out at the council after claiming he was unable to obtain a parking permit because he did not have access to a computer.

Fred D’Arcy, of Venture Close, does not have a computer to access the online application form and was advised to seek help at his local library.

But when he did so, the 70-year-old claimed there was no-one there to assist him.

“They advised me to go down to the library but they can’t take the money and had no-one there to help,” he said.

“I am 70 years of age – why can’t they make it easier for people?

“There must be thousands of people in the borough who can’t use the computer, so they should have a contact centre for people like us where we can get help.

“It is cutting down on stuff. It does not take much to have a couple of people in a department.

“They are just holding us to ransom.

“If we are paying rates in the borough, then we should be able to use the facilities without going on the website.”

A council spokesperson said: “If residents are unable to complete an online application for a service we ask them to go to their nearest library where they can get assistance.

“All residents must have a proof of address with them in order to complete any online application.

“‘Computer buddies’ are available at libraries at various times and residents can book a time slot to sit with one and go through the online application process.”

The spokesperson claimed the library had been unable to assist Mr D’Arcy because he had no proof of identity.

“I understand that the issue was later resolved after Mr D’Arcy called the Contact Centre and they subsequently took payment over the phone for the scratchcards,” they added.

Paul Goulden, chief executive of Age Concern Bexley, said the charity is occasionally contacted by elderly residents needing help with online applications.

“We provide a service to help older people fill in forms in person,” he added.

“We also have internet access at our wellbeing centres in Bexleyheath, Northumberland Heath and Belvedere and we can help people do online requests through them.”

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