STROKE victims have been unable to use a new gym because of a broken lift.

Members of the Butterflies After Stroke Club say they cannot get to the multi-million pound facilities at Deeside Leisure Centre because a lift has been out of action for three weeks.

Chairman Alf Hickman said members with limited movement had been made to feel like “outcasts.”

He told the Leader: “Flintshire Council is raving about this new gym, but the lift is constantly out of order.

“We feel neglected. We feel that we do not matter.”

Mr Hickman, 65, from Queensferry, was given 24 hours to live after suffering a stroke in 2003 but a pioneering operation saved his life.

The former football referee began to work out at Deeside Leisure Centre once a programme of rehabilitation at Deeside Hospital ended.

He added: “I can’t walk very far and have problems with my right leg so going to the gym is great because it builds up my strength.

“In the old gym we could sit down between our exercises but the new gym has got no seating.

“The gym is very nice if you are able-bodied but not for us.”

His wife and full-time carer, Pauline, 63, added: “We thought the gym would be fantastic when it was finished but it’s like no-one cares.

“Here we are encouraging people to use the gym but they go and can’t use it.

“We are losing faith in it.”

Members of the Ewloe-based club, who train on Tuesdays from 11am to noon, have joined forces with the Buckley-based Chatterboxes Club, run for people with speech difficulties after a stroke, to pen a letter of concern to Alyn and Deeside AM Carl Sargeant.

Supporting their cause is Connah’s Quay councillor Bernie Attridge who added:
“Disabled people are being treated like second-class citizens.

“This is totally unacceptable, so I demand urgent action.”

The gym, unveiled in August, comprises an 80-station fitness suite, two fitness studios, a toning studio and new changing rooms.

It is part of a three-phase £4 million overhaul by Flintshire Council and its partner Alliance Leisure.

Councillor Dennis Hutchinson, executive member for lesiure, added: "The lift has been out of action since September 15 because of a malfunctioning part and the decision was taken in the interests of healthy and safety to close it down until we were able to get a part in from America.

"Users have been made aware of this and I apologise to anyone who has been inconvenienced in this regard.

"We will do anything humanely possible to accomodate our disabled users.”

A spokesman for Flintshire Council said: “The lift has been out of action for just over two weeks.

“Lift engineers came out the day it broke down but unfortunately the fault required a new part which had to be ordered from abroad.

“Engineers have assured us that that they will be on-site today to complete the repair work.”