THE partner of a disabled man has spoken out after he was left stranded by the AA.

Tim Dobson, of Hawkswick, in Littondale, was left high and dry when his car suffered a puncture between Hawkswick and Arncliffe on January 14.

As a member of the AA he called out the service, but because the operator could not identify his exact location, no-one arrived.

Mr Dobson, who suffered a stroke a few years ago, could not make it back to his home a mile away and was forced to call out a friend.

Now his partner Helen Walker says the incident has affected his confidence to the extent that he has hardly driven since.

She said: "He doesn't want to go out in case he gets himself stuck. It's a confidence thing, it's just put him back months and months.

"The incident left him feeling depressed for a considerable time."

Miss Walker wrote and faxed letters to customer services at AA, but did not receive any feedback until weeks later.

Although the company has apologised and offered three months' free membership or six months' free homestart, Miss Walker feels this is inadequate.

She added: "They have apologised, but they haven't taken into consideration the affect it has had on Tim. I feel we should have had a much more positive response and received at least a letter from a manager stating they had changed the way calls are dealt with."

This week AA road operations director Steve Dewey told the Herald: "We apologise unreservedly for the distress caused to Mr Dobson in what was clearly a vulnerable situation. The AA is committed to meeting the needs of disabled members. We operate a disability helpline and our call handlers are trained to give priority service to disabled or other vulnerable members at a breakdown.

"On this occasion we failed to meet our own high standards of courtesy and care and we are taking the matter up with staff involved to try and prevent it happening again."