Paraplegic told too fat for chair
PARAPLEGIC Maz Smyth has not walked for 21 years, but admits she has never felt as downtrodden as when a staff member of Toowoomba Regional Council told her she was too fat for her wheelchair.
Ms Smyth was attempting to have her manual wheelchair repaired after a wheel broke off when it got caught in a pothole on James Street, outside the Police Citizens Youth Club markets on Sunday.
She blamed council for the pothole and the damage.
“If you broke your leg you'd want it put in a cast,” she said.
“Well, my wheelchair is my leg.
“It was broken because of this large pothole on the footpath and I want it fixed.”
Ms Smyth spent every day since Monday at City Hall requesting assistance to have her wheelchair repaired.
She was repeatedly told it was not council's responsibility and, if she wanted her request considered, she would have to lodge an official claim.
Even then she was told it was highly unlikely she would get council compensation.
Fed up, Ms Smyth demanded to meet with Mayor Peter Taylor only to be told by a council staff member “perhaps it was your weight that caused the wheelchair to break”.
“That's what I got after getting run-around after run-around after run-around,” she said.
“Well, I'm pissed off and that's being very polite.”
Outside City Hall yesterday, being photographed by The Chronicle, Ms Smyth finally got her wish.
Mayor Peter Taylor, noticing what was happening from upstairs, interrupted the photo shoot to collect the broken wheelchair and send it immediately to council's workshop for repair.
Ms Smyth was back on four wheels by late yesterday afternoon.
“I'm not sure how (the wheelchair was damaged) but we've had it fixed to help her out,” Cr Taylor said.