Northampton mobility scooter service to cease after funding cut

The Shopmobility scheme in Northampton wil cease in September, according to a statement on its Facebook page.
The Shopmobility scheme in Northampton wil cease in September, according to a statement on its Facebook page.

A service offering cheap mobility scooter hire in Northampton town centre has announced it will close in September after its grant from the borough council was reduced.

Northampton Shopmobility, based in the Mayorhold car park, has announced that it can no longer continue in the light of cuts to the grant it receives.

A statement on its Facebook page reads: “In April a meeting was held regarding the future of Northampton Shopmobility following the reduction in our Northampton Borough Council grant.

“Unfortunately we did not find any way of making these cuts up.

“So it is with great regret that we have to inform you that the service will cease on 30th September or maybe earlier if we cannot find sufficient or alternative funding.”

The statement asks people to write to the leader of the council, Councillor Mary Markham, (Con, Park) to express their views.

Services users have already begun expressing their sadness at the loss of the scheme.

Kingsthorpe man Justin Brown said the service, which costs £3 to hire a scooter, offers a “lifeline” to people with mobility issues.

Around 400 people a year use the service,

Mr Brown said: “Everyone knows as a matter of fact that if you are in a position where you are not able bodied, then you can feel stuck in your home.

“I think it is something the council could easily find the money for. It’s pittance for the council, why do they feel that it’s a priority to be cut.”

Shopmobility, run by the Northampton Door to Door service, was told last April that the £22,000 it previously received from Northampton Borough Council’s Partnership Grant Fund (PGF) has been reduced to £11,000.

This year that grant was reduced again to £8,000.

Chairman of the board of trustees at Northampton Door to Door Service Sam Towell, said it is still in the process of trying to secure funding from another source.

Labour group leader, Councillor Danielle Stone (Lab, Castle) said: “The borough council was told that their cuts would likely mean the closure of Shopmobility but they did not listen to these warnings.

“The funding cuts to Shopmobility were wrong and this is very bad news for disabled people in our town.”

Councillor Anna King, Northampton borough council’s cabinet member for community engagement, said: “We always have difficult decisions to make as we look at how our grants can best help people in Northampton as every year this fund is oversubscribed. No funding is guaranteed year upon year – it is a competitive bidding process with over 40 applications received from organisations also applying for support from this year’s Partnership Grant pot.

“The Shopmobility scheme was given £8,000 from the borough council and were offered help from Voluntary Impact Northampton to look at further funding streams, but unfortunately didn’t move forward with the offer.

“In addition to the above grant, the Door to Door Service, who run and manage the Shopmobility scheme, received grant funding from the Councillor Community Fund from May 2015 to present, to a sum of £1,200 and received £1,456 from the NBC Small Grants pot towards the upgrade of the service’s computers.”