Blind gran slams council after they order her to remove solar light guides

Debbie Johnson, a blind lady from Mansfield has been ordered by the council to remove the solar lights and swing set on the communal gardens at her house. Pictured with her grandaughter, Ellie Johnson 6.

Debbie Johnson, a blind lady from Mansfield has been ordered by the council to remove the solar lights and swing set on the communal gardens at her house. Pictured with her grandaughter, Ellie Johnson 6.

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A Mansfield woman who is partially blind has slammed the district council for ordering her to remove solar lighting from a communal garden.

Debbie Johnson, of Maltby Road, has lived in council owned bungalows with a shared communal area for three and a half years.

Ms Johnson was ordered to remove the solar lighting after the council received a complaint from her next door neighbour.

The lights have been in place since she moved in and other residents also have solar lights and benches in the shared garden yet Miss Johnson is the only tenant to have been told to remove them.

Ms Johnson said she feels stigmatised and bewildered as to why she cannot keep the lights.

She is registered blind and relies on the lights as a guide up her garden path from her back door at night.

The 46-year-old also recently erected a small swing for her six-year-old grandaughter to play on when she comes round.

Ms Johnson said: “Although the garden is a shared communal area, everyone sticks to the area outside their house and has made it their own.

“None of the other neighbours have a problem with the lights or the swing in my garden and many of their grandchildren and children often play on it together.

“They all think its bizarre I have been ordered to remove them and we have now got a petition going to try and get them to change their minds.

“I could not believe it when the lady from the council asked me why I didn’t take my grandaughter to the park to play.

“I am registered blind and my sight is only partial, even if I wanted to I would not be able to see well enough to lead my grandaughter to the park, I was livid.”

Mansfield District Council sent Ms Johnson a letter on 9th August telling her to remove the swing and lights after she was visited by a housing officer on 17th July and 8th August.

The council said the swing and solar panels caused an obstruction for council workers and she was violating her tenancy agreement.

So far petition is five pages long as neighbours and friends rally to her support

Ms Johnson pays to have her garden maintained which means council workers do not need to access her lawn but can do so if they need to.

Coun Mick Colley, portfolio holder for tenancy services and housing needs at Mansfield District Council, said: “The tenants of the sheltered housing bungalows on Maltby Road, Mansfield, all have access to a communal grassed area which is to the rear of the properties.

“This area is provided and maintained by the District Council for the enjoyment and benefit of all the residents of the bungalows.

“As part of the conditions of the tenancy, residents are required to keep all shared areas free from obstructions.

“We have asked Ms Johnson to remove the swing and solar lights from the communal garden, as we had received complaints and they were causing an obstruction for our staff when cutting the grass.

“Security lighting is installed to the rear of the properties, to ensure adequate lighting for tenants during the night, but if this is not sufficient we are happy to carry out a further assessment.”

Ms Johnson added the council workmen are able to get by the swing and lights to mow the lawn.

“I don’t want to break my grandaughter’s heart and tell her the swing is going unless I absolutely have to. I have never caused the council any trouble, I just don’t understand it.

“They should spend more time tracking down other problems rather than wasting time on this.” she said