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Lifeline service for disabled shoppers is latest to fall foul of council cutbacks

Shopmobility in Drury Lane is set to close its doors for good as part of Solihull council's cost cutting measures.

Shopmobility in Drury Lane, which Solihull Council are planning to put out to tender
Shopmobility in Drury Lane, which Solihull Council are planning to put out to tender

A lifeline mobility service in Solihull is set to close its doors for good as part of the council’s cost cutting measures.

Shocked staff and volunteers at Shopmobility in Drury Lane were informed by email last week about the decision to close the site, leaving a remaining site at Touchwood.

Council bosses have said previously that it was not viable to keep two sites running and it was proposed in October last year that the two sites be reduced to just one.

A Shopmobility volunteer said the Drury Lane service, which employs one paid member of staff and 10 volunteers, is well used.

“We know for a fact that there are some people who will not use the Touchwood site,” the volunteer, who asked not to be named, added.

“There is one lady who will only use the Drury Lane service because her hands are so bad that she is not able to use the ticket machine at Touchwood car park.”

Shopmobility loans out wheelchairs and mobility scooters to shoppers. The site at Touchwood is based in the Touchwood car park.

“The council have got their priorities wrong. For the small amount of money they are saving, compared to what they spend on other things, it is just completely unfair,” the volunteer added.

“This service is more than loaning out mobility scooters, we look after people’s shopping, help people out to their cars.

“There are so many people who are going to miss us here as this is the only time that they can get out and about and meet people.

“There are a lot of disabled people who use this service and now they will be left with no service at all.”

Many customers will now have to rely on the Ring and Ride service, the volunteer said.

A Solihull Council spokesman said: “The Shopmobility Board is recommending to the membership that Touchwood run the service from their existing Shopmobility site in the shopping centre. This will have the benefit of being free to all users, with no membership fee or charge for hire.

“This follows the board considering all options for the future of the service and concluding that there is no viable alternative other than to close the Drury Lane unit.

“The membership will vote on this recommendation and approval for the loaning of Shopmobility equipment to Touchwood to run the service, subject to a Service Level Agreement, at a Special General Meeting on Friday, 13 March.”

 

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