Headlines: November 28th, 2006

LOCAL AUTHORITIES URGED TO GUARANTEE SUPPORT TO SHOPMOBILITY SCHEMES

 

Local authorities are being urged to promote Shopmobility schemes when town centres are redeveloped and to support schemes where they exist. The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee has issued a policy statement aimed at local councils and detailing the case for Shopmobility.

The schemes involve the loan of equipment such as manual or powered wheelchairs and powered scooters to anyone with limited mobility for their use in a town or shopping centre. The Committee, which was set up to advise Government on the transport needs of all people with disabilities, has commissioned research by MORI into the working of Shopmobility schemes.

Neil Betteridge, the committee chairman, said the move towards pedestrianisation of town centres and the development of out of town shopping outlets meant there was often limited opportunity for people to park or be dropped off close to where they wanted to shop. “Our MORI research shows that Shopmobility schemes are a popular and well used service. The National Federation of Shopmobility estimates that their services make over 1.5 million trips per year and the business case for providing the schemes is convincing,” he said.

Meanwhile, Grahame Lawson, who chairs the committee’s Personal Mobility and Local Authority Working Group, said the schemes should be an integral part of Local Transport Plan strategies and funding. “Local authorities should be encouraged to promote Shopmobility amongst developers and give support to local schemes,” he added. Current provision, he said, was patchy and schemes often had to compete with other charities for local financial support.

“Guaranteed local funding would encourage more schemes and help more disabled and older people to retain their mobility, and bridge an existing gap by providing a more integrated and accessible transport system,” Mr. Lawson said.

The DPTAC position statement on Shopmobility can be found on its website at http://www.dptac.gov.uk/pubs/shopmobility/index.htm