‘Elderly and disabled at risk amid Dales community bus cuts’

Coun Colin Swindell is urging people to sign a petition opposing cuts to community transport in the Dales.
Coun Colin Swindell is urging people to sign a petition opposing cuts to community transport in the Dales.

Elderly and disabled people’s health will be put at risk if proposed cuts to the community transport scheme are approved, it has been claimed.

Councillor Colin Swindell has launched a petition to save the transport ‘lifeline’ – and is urging people from across the Dales to show their support.

Mr Swindell, independent representative for Winster and South Darley, fears vulnerable people will be ‘stranded in their homes if Derbyshire County Council approves the cuts.

He said: “For many elderly and disabled people community transport is the only way they can get to the shops or attend hospital and healthcare appointments.”

The county council’s proposed changes include: allowing only one weekly dial-a-bus trip to the nearest market town; a 50 per cent increase in the flat-rate return fare for Gold Card from £2 to £3; cutting all funding for the Active Travel scheme ,which takes individuals to GP surgeries, hospitals, clinics and other healthcare appointments.

Coun Swindell added: “These cuts will limit elderly and disabled people to one shopping trip a week – and only to their nearest town...

“Few of us can imagine what it would be like to get out just once a week to the same place every time.

“This will seriously affect the health and well-being of our most vulnerable residents who have no other way of getting out and about.”

“If we can get 7,500 signatures by November 19, Derbyshire County Council will be forced to properly debate their plans and hopefully reconsider their cuts to this vital lifeline.”

Sign the petition at: www.derbyshire.gov.uk/petitions

A Derbyshire County Council spokeswoman said: “We don’t want to make any cuts to frontline services but by 2018 we’ll be getting a third less money from central Government to run council services.... We’re protecting frontline services and vulnerable people as much as we can... but the size of the cuts means we have no choice about scaling back most of the services we provide.

“We held a public consultation about our proposals for community transport and all comments received will be considered and used to draw up a report for Cabinet members to consider.”