Wednesday 21 February 2024
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Nottingham

Fears over future of Shopmobility at Victoria Centre

Charities and local organisations are yet to be contacted over whether they could take on the running of a service for disabled shoppers which faces the axe.

The Shopmobility service in the Victoria Centre is operated solely by the Labour-run city council.

The service loans wheelchairs to shoppers living with disabilities or mobility issues.

It is based in the Victoria Centre’s multi-storey car park.

But the council has proposed to cut it completely as part of savings totalling £29m, as it seeks to bridge a £32m gap in its 2023/24 budget.

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During a Scrutiny Committee meeting on January 4, councillors were questioned over whether or not local organisations had been contacted regarding running the service in the council’s place.

Cllr Georgia Power (Lab) said other local authorities had transferred similar services to charities or volunteers, including Rushcliffe Borough Council.

Broxtowe Borough Council closed its service in 2019.

She said: “Obviously I understand the reasons that it is proposed and I think they are all very valid, but I think it will be a concern for the people it affects.

“Are they things we have looked into? Whether we could join up with them, or whether there are charities locally that might want to take it on, because obviously if it becomes a charity then they are entitled to receive grants that we are not.

“Has that been considered?”

Cllr Audra Wynter, the portfolio holder for highways, transport and parks, was then questioned whether the process of contacting local organisations had started, to which he responded “no.”

A public consultation on the plans to stop the service will come to an end on January 25, while the budget will be approved at Full Council in March.

Deputy leader of the council and portfolio holder for finance, Cllr Adele Williams (Lab), added: “The structural issues at the place where it is may make it difficult but certainly what we have shown here is the value of [this].

“That is part of the consultation, a lot of this stuff, as we have done in previous years.

“We announced to the city this is what we are considering because of the situation we are in, losing £100m a year in RSG (Revenue Support Grant), therefore how can we work with you to try and keep this service going?”

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