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LOCKED OUT: Fears over Shopmobility service

LOCKED OUT: Fears over Shopmobility service

Image: LDRS

Fears have been raised people have been “locked out” of Wolverhampton city centre by the continued closure of a mobility service.

Wolverhampton Conservatives have called for the reopening of the council-run Shopmobility, which was temporarily closed due to Covid, and to shelve any plans to cut the service.

Tory group members said council officers had told them the service would return but concerns had been raised about operating costs and measures to make saving such as reduced opening hours were being looked at.

The council said it was looking to get Shopmobility – which costs £48,000 a year to run – back as soon as possible, adding a review into ensuring it was being run in the most efficient way was being undertaken.

The service provides manual and powered wheelchairs and scooters to people with limited mobility to help them shop and use facilities in the city centre.

Conservative councillor Adam Collinge said they would continue lobbying the authority until it was fully restarted and any potential cuts cancelled.

He said: “Residents have been expressing their concern at the continuing closure of Shopmobility and I have been raising this with council staff.

“Whilst restrictions have eased and we have begun to reopen, there has been no phased reopening of the service and unfortunately some residents are still locked out of our city centre as a result.

“Shopmobility should be re-opened immediately and any planned cuts cancelled. Service users need answers and proper consultation. This is a highly valued service that has been closed for far too long.”

Councillor Steve Evans, cabinet member for city environment, said: “We are looking to get the Shopmobility service back up and running as quickly as possible.

“But we are taking the time it needs to ensure this is done safely to protect our service users and also provide them with the reassurance they need to feel confident returning to us.

“The reopening will most likely be done on a phased basis, but we are totally committed to getting this much-valued service open once again as we come out of the pandemic.”

He added: “The service will reopen, but as with every service, the council is reviewing how it is run to ensure it provides the best experience to users, provides good value for money to taxpayers and is run in the most efficient way possible.”

 

Words: Gurdip Thandi, Local Democracy Reporter


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