Northampton Shopmobility service saved...for now

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Northampton shoppers may be able to access a town centre scooter and wheelchair service until at least March after possible short-term funding was found.

Shopmobility - which hires out cheaply to disabled people who want to shop in town or visit NGH - had been set to close later this year after a drop in Northampton Borough Council funding left an £11,000 shortfall.

But following a public outcry, an emergency meeting at the Guildhall between trustees and councillors has now seen the local authority assist with applications for a total of £13,000 of funding.

The announcement was being hailed as positive news yesterday, although a council spokeswoman stressed that the money was not guaranteed.

She said: “We always have difficult decisions to make as we look at how our grants can best help people in Northampton.

“Ever year the bidding process is oversubscribed and unfortunately no funding is guaranteed but is subject to a competitive bidding process.”

The applications for £13,000 are made up of £3,000 from the council’s small grants fund and £10,000 from the Northamptonshire Community Foundation.

Councillor Phil Larratt (Con, East Hunsbury), who called the meeting, said the outcome was positive but acknowledged that the money, if awarded, would only provide breathing space.

He said: “This will hopefully last until March and we’ve got from now until then to find ongoing funds.

“What we really need to do more is increase the number of users; that’s the thing that will keep it going.

“We talked about how we can raise awareness and I think that’s the long-term solution.”

To find out about membership of Shopmobility call Northampton 583553.

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Earlier this year, Shopmobility announced it would be closing from September 30 following another cut to the Partnership Grant Fund (PGF) it received from Northampton Borough Council.

Run by the Northampton Door to Door Service , it offers cheap mobility scooter hire from its base in the Mayorhold car park, off Sheep Street.

The cut was called “nasty” and “disgraceful” during this month’s full council meeting.

PGF had already been reduced to £11,000.

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