Redbridge pensioners question ‘appalling’ cancellation of Freedom Passes during eligibility review

Irene Cohen with her apology letter from London Councils and her Freedom Pass

Irene Cohen with her apology letter from London Councils and her Freedom Pass - Credit: Archant

Two Redbridge pensioners have received apologies after their Freedom Passes were mistakenly cancelled because of problems with an eligibility review.

London Councils [LC] has reviewed pensioners’ eligibility for the passes, which provide free travel on buses and rail services, by writing to people to ask for proof of address.

But Irene Cohen, 64, of Cranley Drive, Gants Hill, had her pass cancelled without ever receiving a letter, despite living in the same home for 40 years.

And Richard Beckford, 87, a resident of Green Lane, Ilford, for 21 years also had his pass cancelled. LC has since apologised to both and offered to reimburse any additional expenses they incurred.

Irene said: “I’m someone that can deal with it. But there’s a lot of older people who can’t perhaps.

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“There’s people who absolutely rely on it, perhaps for hospital appointments. I think it’s appalling.”

You must live in a London address and have been born on or before May 5 1951 to get a pass.

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Mr Beckford said he sent “irrefutable evidence” of his proof of address, where he has lived for 21 years, to company QAS, contracted by LC to undertake the review.

But he still waited around three weeks to have his pass reactivated.

The pensioner used buses in the interim because the drivers allowed him on but he was unable to go on the Underground, which he frequently uses to visit a friend in Hainault.

He said: “I’ve had to look at the bus map and take two buses and sometimes three.”

John Coombes, the chairman of Redbridge Pensioners’ Forum, said he thought the review had been “handled badly”.

A London Councils spokesman said: “We apologise to both Mrs Cohen and Mr Beckford for the inconvenience caused.

“The review, which has now been concluded, is to confirm that everyone who has a Freedom Pass is entitled to it and to prevent fraud.

“We have more than 1.3 million pass holders across London and as a result of this exercise we have cancelled 24,000 passes, of which around two per cent have subsequently been reinstated.”

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