A MAN suffering from two debilitating lung conditions has accused a council of taking away his independence after his application for a disabled parking badge was refused.

Owen Jackson, of Sedgefield, County Durham, said he was devastated when Durham County Council turned down his application for a blue badge earlier this year.

The 56-year-old, who suffers from asbestosis and emphysema, was told he did not meet the criteria, as he regularly walks to shops and other amenities in his hometown.

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However, Mr Jackson said the assessor had failed to appreciate the impact walking has on his body, which can include heart palpitations, exhaustion, coughing fits and dizziness.

Last month, he appealed the decision but was unsuccessful, despite including a letter from a respiratory specialist who confirmed the “disabling nature” of his conditions.

Mr Jackson said: “I have never denied my ability to walk the prescribed distance; in fact I walk as a matter of course to try and maintain my lung capacity while I am able to. After I have carried out my daily walk I am fatigued for the rest of the day.”

He said public transport was impossible, adding: “As a result I can’t visit any town centre, as the walk from the car park is generally too far away from the shops. I also have to consider the energy spent walking around the shops and getting back to the car.”

Mr Jackson, a former heating engineer, believes exposure to asbestos in the 1970s and dusty building sites caused the incurable and degenerative lung diseases.

He said: “I have worked hard and paid taxes all of my life but now that I need some help I am forced to fight for it.

“They have taken away my independence at a time when I should be enjoying life while I still can.”

Ken Pattison, Durham County Council’s strategic manager for service support in children and adults services, said: “We would not comment on an individual’s personal circumstances. However, all Blue Badge applications are considered in line with Department for Transport Guidance.

“Where necessary, this includes carrying out a clinical mobility assessment by an occupational therapist to assess inability to walk or to determine if an applicant has very considerable difficulty in walking.

“We will, of course, reconsider any application if there is a subsequent change in the applicant’s mobility problems or if any further information is provided by the applicant.”