POTENTIAL blood donors were left baffled by the news that all donation sessions in their village have been cancelled over a health and safety risk from a four-inch step.

NHS Blood and Transplant cancelled its latest session at Kennington Village Centre on October 7 because of the problem posed to its staff by the step there.

Now the service has said it has no plans to hold any future sessions in the village, and told people they will have to go to Abingdon or Oxford.

The health and safety furore comes after the Oxford Mail reported yesterday that lock keepers in Oxfordshire might be stopped from using fire extinguishers because they are not trained. Kennington Parish Council chairman Colin Charlett said: “I know they have to wheels things up there but it’s four inches.

“It seems silly that after 27 years it has become an issue – it hasn’t grown in that time.”

Kennington Village Centre secretary Peter Biggs said he was annoyed because the blood service had not even discussed the decision with the managing committee.

He said: “It means people in Kennington can no longer go to their local centre to give blood, but it’s the fact they made the decision without consulting with us. That is what really irritated the trustees.

“It’s their attitude really.”

Yesterday the Oxford Mail reported the outcry from lock keepers after health and safety was cited as a reason to take away their fire extinguishers and lock ladders.

The Environment Agency had claimed employees were not trained to use the extinguishersand added that some ladders may be too heavy for lock keepers to lift.

Commenting on the situation in Kennington, the Blood and Transplant service said it recently started using new trolleys which would not fit over the step, and its own health and safety assessors had decided there was not room anywhere at the centre for a ramp which would be adequate.

Area manager Gayle Franklin said: “We recently re-assessed the safety and suitability of holding blood donation sessions at the village hall in Kennington and the step and doorstep lip there prevent our staff from safely moving our new donor beds into the hall.

“The new beds are rigid and must be transported on trolleys and there is not enough room for an adequate ramp.”

Ms Franklin said she understood there would be disappointment from “many of our committed donors”, and invited them to go to sessions at Abingdon United Football Club in Northcourt Road.

She said the service has now increased the number of sessions at Abingdon United Football Club, to accommodate more people.

She concluded: “We appreciate the changes mean asking some donors to travel further to donate but we hope they will continue to do so.”

Kennington Parish Council chairman Colin Charlett said: “They’re going to lose out because there are quite a few people who have said they won’t go to Abingdon.”

The parish council has now written to NHS Blood and Transplant to express its annoyance with the decision.

The service said it had reviewed health and safety at all other Oxfordshire sessions and had not moved any others.

It also stated: “This change will not effect blood supplies in Oxfordshire.”