MP Keith Vaz to sell clothes in bid to help Peggy, 83, buy stairlift and shower
MP Keith Vaz is to sell his old suits and his dead mother's clothes to help an elderly constituent pay for a stairlift and shower.
Mr Vaz visited 83-year-old Peggy Taylor at her home in Netherhall, Leicester, after she wrote to him about her long battle with the city council to get the stairlift and disabled access shower fitted in her house.
The great-grandmother, who suffers from lung disease and heart problems, has been waiting about six years for the work which was approved in March last year.
However, after being told by the council she would have to pay £220 towards the costs, she was sent a bill for £477.
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Instead of the workmen she was expecting last month, she said all she received was demands for the cash threatening "further action" if she did not pay.
Mr Vaz said: "I think it's outrageous what she's been put through and I can't get my mind around it.
"I'm so angry to see this demand for overdue payments sent to an infirm woman of her age. It's remarkably insensitive.
"I'm going to organise a sale outside Mrs Taylor's house and sell my late mother's clothes and my own suits that no longer fit me and pay this £477 myself."
Mr Vaz's mother, Merlyn, died in October 2002 after a battle with cancer and the MP has lost weight after being diagnosed with diabetes.
Peggy thanked Mr Vaz.
She said: "It's very kind. It's the city council who want a rollicking.
"I think they are treating me terribly. I've been working all my life and I need the stairlift and the shower to stay in this house.
"I've fallen twice in the shower and it takes me a long time to get upstairs."
Peggy's daughter, Merilyn Bee, 59, who lives in Beaumont Leys, Leicester, said: "She's living on her pension and just paying her bills when she can.
"She struggles to get upstairs and she really needs this work doing."
Mr Vaz, Labour MP for Leicester East, said: "Mrs Taylor is a pensioner, living in her own home without the city council having to look after her in an elderly resident's home.
"All Mrs Taylor requires is a little bit of modification to her home so that she can continue to live independently.
"She has worked all her life, contributed by paying her taxes and this is the kindness that is shown to her in her fragile years."
A Leicester City Council spokesman apologised for the error in which Mrs Taylor was told she only needed to pay £220.
The spokesman said the amount was determined by means testing and was prescribed by national legislation and subject to strict rules.
He said: "The advice given to Mrs Taylor during the home visit was found to be inaccurate. This has been corrected and we apologise for the error."
Mr Vaz is due to hold the sale outside Peggy's house in Armadale Drive at 12.30pm on Friday.