Cuts to Northampton scooter hire service slammed...when mayor's limousine costs more

Moves to reduce funding to a vital mobility scooter service in Northampton were described as 'nasty' and 'disgraceful' during a Guildhall meeting last night.

Monday, 6th June 2016, 9:08 pm
Updated Monday, 6th June 2016, 10:12 pm
The Shopmobility scheme in Northampton wil cease in September, according to a statement on its Facebook page.

On Friday it was revealed Northampton Shopmobility would be ceasing its services from September because the amount it receives from the borough council was cut again from £11,000 to 8,000.

At last night’s full Northampton Borough Council meeting, the authority’s Conservative group faced a backlash from members of the public and opposition members.

In public speaking, Phil Leach felt the cut was needless, when the number plate on the mayor’s car was valued at around £250,000.

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Dave Green, speaking on behalf of Northampton Disabled People Against Cuts, added: “This is a disgraceful move that will further impact on people’s lives.

“You are picking on the disadvantaged, just like your government does.

“It exposes you yet again as the nasty party.”

He too went on to refer to the cost of the mayor’s car, used for civic duties.

“Our council spends more on the mayoral limousine than it does on this cut,” he said.

“We are saying quite clearly; think again or carry the shame for a long time to come.”

Shopmobility provides mobility scooter hire for £3 a use in the town centre. Some have described the service as a “Lifeline.”

It has been partly funded through Northampton Borough Council’s Partnership Grant Fund, (PGF) which splits a figure of £550,000 between a number of voluntary bodies in the borough.

There are around 40 applications to the pot of funding each year.

However Conservative Councillor Phil Larratt (Con, East Hunsbury) made a direct challenge to his Conservative colleague with the cabinet responsibility for community engagement.

He asked Councillor Anna King (Con, Phippsville) indirectly: “Will she allow this valuable service to be lost during her stewardship as portfolio holder?”

But Councillor King said the decision to reduce the funding was not solely made by the Tories. The panel which decides how that grant fund is spent features both opposition councillors and voluntary sector leaders.

She said: “The pot of money needs to be divided out.

“It isn’t just a Tory panel that sits on this (The Partnership Grant Fund panel). It’s cross party.

“There are a number of people from the voluntary sector on the panel too.

“I’m happy to meet with Shopmobility to get other sources of funding from them.”