A CHARITY which represents the blind and visually impaired has hit out at Bromley Council for temporarily suspending equipment provision.

Services which include the talking books, as well as equipment such as walking canes and liquid level indicators, are all under review by the council.

Kent Association for the Blind (KAB), which has a sight centre in Blyth Road, Bromley, will be pressuring the council to continue providing funding.

Dick Groves, aged 65, of South View, Bromley, said: “Visual impairment is the most feared of all sensory impairments. Provision in Bromley is extremely patchy.”

Mr Groves, who is blind, said: “This is a classic example of the way in which action has been taken without consultation and without information being given to one of the weakest sections of society and least able to respond.”

News Shopper: Kent Association for the Blind's Bromley branch

A KAB spokesman said: “We are currently in contact with our service users to explain the service has been temporarily suspended by the London borough of Bromley.

“We are sharing other providers of these services such as the Calibre audio library, a completely free service, to ensure users are not going to go without talking books.

“We at KAB are going to be making representations to the council to press the case that it would be more cost effective to continue to fund provision because we believe withdrawing that service represents a real risk to people’s safety and their ability to get out and about.

“The costs that could be generated by injury would far outweigh the cost to the council of providing equipment.”

A council spokesman said: "We have a strong commitment to providing talking books in our libraries with no plans to cut the service and we will continue to make special concessions to waive charges to people with a registered visual impairment.

"We have however moved from cassettes to CDs and downloadable material over the years but we still keep a large collection of older cassettes in our Home Library Service, which supports customers who are physically unable to get into a branch.

"There are also free national talking book service and as well as our library service we will be assisting people to access the talking books from the national Calibre service together with the equipment provided by the British Wireless for the Blind Fund.

"To make sure we make the best use of our resource we wanted to avoid duplication and whilst we no longer fund the KAB talking books service, KAB is pointing people to our library and to these free services.

"In terms of equipment supplied by the KAB on our behalf such as portable lamps, talking clocks and mobility aids, again we want to make sure we use resources as efficiently as possible and have suspended this KAB while we carry out a review.

"However we do continue to fund KAB to provide assessment and rehabilitation services for people with visual impairments."