The sister of a retired Crickhowell clergyman has said plans to remove a chairlift in his building are both ‘cruel’ and ‘discriminatory’.

80-year-old Reverend Royston Bevan’s health has declined, and he relies on his stairlift to get him from the top floor of his flat in Crickhowell, which is owned by the council. Roy has lived in the building for over 14 years and has refurbished the apartment, spending substantial amounts to make it home. Roy has since become disabled. He fell seriously ill in May, and his family feared he wouldn’t pull through. The chairlift was already in the building when he moved in, and now Roy relies on it to get from his top-floor apartment and down to the street. The stairlift works, but the family have heard that it may soon be removed due to safety concerns.

“This is cruel and it feels like discrimination,” Pauline says. “This has been hanging over his head for so long. If he loses this stairlift he will be housebound. It’s making us both ill. I’ve been ill over it because I’m worried about Roy because I live so far away from him in Swansea. It’s making me depressed because I can’t see any answers and don’t have any outcome.”

However, Pauline says they have not had this confirmed in writing, and that the claims that it is a fire safety hazard don’t add up. “They’ve led us to believe this is a decision made by a fire officer, but I’ve since looked at reports and had it confirmed by a retired fire officer who thinks that the fire officer who did this original assessment had already been told it’s coming out, and that it has already been decided that it’s being removed before an assessment of the building was done. It keeps going back and forth, and no decision has been made so we can’t plan anything. It’s causing a huge amount of stress for us.”

Since August, the family have been waiting for a decision on whether or not the stairlift will be removed, and they feel like they can’t fight it because they’ve only been told of potential plans verbally. “Roy hasn’t been given anything in writing,” Pauline says. “We need something in writing for Roy. Without anything in writing, we can’t fight it or do anything further. Don’t give him an ultimatum and then not give him the paperwork that he would need to fight it further.”

If Roy loses his stairlift, he will be forced to move homes. But Roy has always been a vicar in Crickhowell, and doesn’t want to leave the area. According to his sister, no other houses are available. “He was adamant that he didn’t want to be put on the housing list, but when he realised that there might be a worse outcome and that he might have to leave, he agreed to put his name on the list, but only in the area he’s currently in. There are no downstairs flats available.”

The decision to remove the stairlift is in the hands of Powys County Council, and Pauline has tried to get hold of Matthew Dorrance, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for a Fairer Powys, but says that she has had no response. “There’s been no contact with Matthew Dorrance. Fay Jones has written to him and has asked him to reconsider.”

Fay Jones, MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, has said that the chairlift is vital for Roy, and serves as a lifeline for his mobility and independence.

She says the numerous correspondence and pleas for consideration have been sent to the council, represented by Matthew Dorrance, but that response times have been ‘notably slow’ and don’t address the concerns raised.

She also points out that claims of health and safety regulations concerning fire safety concern her, as the staircase has ample space, citing evidence of its non-intrusive nature. Fay Jones said: “The chairlift in question is on stairs wider than that found in most UK homes. If this chairlift has to be removed, does this mean all other chairlifts throughout the country are unsafe too? Cllr Dorrance and his colleagues really need to think again, taking into account the effect their decisions have on residents.”

Requests for specific clarification from the Fire Authority on the chairlift’s purported safety issues, and the exact timeline of the Council’s decision-making process, have gone unanswered.

Now, Fay Jones is calling for a re-evaluation of the decision, as well as empathy and common sense.

Fay Jones said: “I call for Cllr Dorrance and Powys County Council to reconsider their cruel decision. This is not just a plea for administrative action but a demand for compassion and a recognition of the fundamental rights of individuals to live with dignity and independence. It is imperative for the Council to engage constructively with the concerns raised, provide the requested clarifications, and ultimately, ensure that decisions are made in the best interest of those they serve.”

As this matter continues to unfold, the community watches closely, hopeful for a resolution that upholds the values of care, respect, and justice for Reverend Royston Bevan and others in similar positions.

Cllr Matthew Dorrance, Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for a Fairer Powys, said: “The council has a clear duty to make sure all its tenants are kept safe, especially in the event of a fire following the Grenfell tragedy.

“The council also has a duty to act upon professional advice provide by Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, which said that the stairlift needed to be removed as it posed a major hazard and would put the lives of people at risk. Both the fire service and the council are required to follow the current fire safety laws and regulations.

“The regulations covering the installation of stairlift in a shared, publicly accessible staircase, like the one at Glan-yr-Afon, are different from those which apply to one in a private home. That is why we have taken the decision to remove the stairlift.

“Although we do all we can to help people be able to stay living in their home as their needs and circumstances change, we also need to ensure our social housing buildings are fire safety compliant.

“We are liaising directly with the tenant and have awarded them band one status on Homes in Powys – the highest possible priority – for a new home of their choice within all the social housing options available in their local community when one becomes available.

“It is very concerning to find the MP advocating an approach which would put lives at risk in the event of a fire.”