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Friday, July 19, 2019

Protesters call for council u-turn on disability travel pass decision

PUBLISHED:

Protesters have called on Nottingham City Council to reverse its decision to stop providing all-day free travel passes for people with disabilities.

In September, city council limited the use of its free mobility pass.

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It no longer offers free travel on either bus or tram from 11 pm to 9.30am, Monday to Friday, for mobility cardholders in the city.

The council said a reduction in funding from the Government has forced it to make the decision.

But the group Reverse Mobility Pass Cuts Campaign has said the council should go back on its decision, without making any cuts elsewhere.

A spokesman said: “The time restriction is having a major impact on disabled people who need to travel to work, hospital appointments, volunteering commitments, day centres and to educational venues. Many disabled people in work are on low and minimum wages.”

The council’s equality impact assessment completed prior to the cut said the changes will have a detrimental impact on 500 disabled people.

The spokesman added: “There is serious concern regarding the council’s consultation process and that the restrictions break three of the four council equality standards and commitments.

“The city council has over £200 million in useable reserves and could use some of those reserves to fund the £100,000 the council states it will save.”

Councillor Dave Liversidge, who represents the St Ann’s Ward for Labour, is the portfolio holder for transport and HR.

He said the council regretted making the decision, but was doing so because of the funding cuts it had received from the Government.

Councillor Liversidge said: “Government cuts that will see the council’s main grant reduced from £127 million in 2013 to £25 million next year left us needing to find savings of £27 million in savings this year. This has led to difficult decisions having to be made.

“From September 3, the council was unfortunately no longer able to offer the benefit of 11 pm to 9.30am travel to city resident mobility card holders Monday to Friday, and instead began delivering the concessionary mobility scheme in line with the rest of the country.

“We’re continuing to offer the extra benefit of free tram travel between 9.30am and 11pm, and this is entirely funded by the council.

“This was the toughest budget cut since the Government imposed austerity measures seven years ago. We’ve done all we can to protect key services, such as children’s centres, tackling crime and anti-social behaviour and supporting vulnerable elderly people, but we have had to make some tough decisions to find savings.

“We consulted on this proposal as part of the wider budget cuts taking place across the council, including writing directly to local Disability Improvement Group for their input.

“Anyone who feels the changes have caused them particular hardship can contact the council. Please email pt.operations@nottinghamcity.gov.uk or call 0115 8763990.”

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