Disabled biker fears he’ll lose his lifeline if garages are demolished

Disabled biker Paul Kelly fears he will have nowhere to store his trike if  his garage is flattened.
Disabled biker Paul Kelly fears he will have nowhere to store his trike if his garage is flattened.

A disabled South Tyneside biker fears his freedom to hit the highway will be ended if a garage complex in which he stores his “lifeline” trike bike is flattened.

Leather-clad Paul Kelly, 55, suffered a stroke in 1999, which has restricted the movement in his right arm.

The trike gives me freedom

Paul Kelly

But he manages to get around on a three-wheeler trike housed in one of six council garages behind his home in Wilfred Street, Boldon Colliery.

The vehicle was designed specifically to meet his needs and he uses it to visit his father in Walker, Newcastle, and brother in Norton on Teesside.

But plans are in place to demolish the garages and build 11 new homes in their place.

Former floor layer Mr Kelly, who is on disability benefit, says he has nowhere else to store the vehicle, which he also uses to travel to bike rallies.

He said: “The trike gives me the freedom to get out and about.

“It’s a lifeline for me. Without the garage, there is no other place to store it, apart from leaving it at risk from the elements on the drive.

“The council have not even had the good grace to tell me about the demolition, even though I have paid the rent religiously.

“I rely on my trike to get about. Without it, I would be high and dry. A lot of people who rent those garages are unhappy. We feel we have been treated shabbily.”

Isos Housing is planning to build housing units of various sizes on the site.

And a council spokeswoman confirmed it was likely the garages would be demolished if the application for new affordable homes was approved by the council’s planning committee.

She said: “Isos and the council have spoken to local residents, including those who have a garage on the site.

“We understand the frustrations of residents who rent these council garages and will keep them informed as the application progresses.”

South Tyneside Council has garages for rent on a number of estates in the borough.

Each local housing office has a waiting list of customers who would like to rent one.

Anyone can apply to rent a garage from the local authority, which gives preference to those who have waited the longest.

But the garages are for personal private use only and must not be used for business purposes.

A council spokesman said: “They are intended for the storage of a motor vehicle and should not be used for the storage of any other goods.

“You should not store petrol or any other inflammable materials in your garage and you should not sublet your garage to anyone else.

“Anyone ending a garage tenancy must give one week’s advance notice, and when they give us back the keys the garage should be empty and swept through. There will be a charge you if we have to clear it for you.”