There has been outrage in Southchurch after a man was refused a Blue Badge permit – he applied for one giving the official reason as ‘possibly not being able to eat gluten.’ Rupert Wheatley, 45, of Hamstel Road, has vowed to take his appeal to the highest possible level, with his legal advisers saying that it could reach the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.
We spoke to Mr Wheatley about his ordeal, and he said: ‘The local council simply do not understand what it means to be afflicted with this condition. If I eat even the smallest amount of gluten, I get incredibly gassy and bloated, and this makes it incredibly tough to get on with the everyday tasks that so many other people take for granted. Last week for instance, I parked in a regular space at Tesco after consuming three tubes of Ready Salted Pringles, and it took me 9 minutes to reach the front door as I had to keep stopping to pass wind.’
He continued: ‘I’m not just intolerant to gluten, the very idea of it offends me to the extent that I am filled with a burning hatred. As I see it, people like me already have our own section in supermarkets, so it stands to reason that we should qualify for a blue badge as well. I do wonder if other blue badge holders truly deserve them – I saw someone with the permit park up and actually walk out of their vehicle the other day. I am currently having to undergo tests to find out the true extent of my gluten intolerance, but the searing pain that I experienced after eating five naan breads over Christmas should mean that the investigations are merely a formality.’
A council spokesperson said that they cannot comment on individual cases, but we received a statement from Paul Sheisterman, Mr Wheatley’s lawyer. He said: ‘My client has been treated incredibly badly here, and clearly those in power do not understand the true meaning of a disability. I have advised Mr Wheatley that he has the funding in place to fight this case to the very highest level, and I will be delighted to stand by his side at every stage of the process.’
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