Falkirk Council: Charges being introduced for Shopmobility service - but it safeguards school crossing patrols

Disabled people in Falkirk using the Shopmobility service will have to start paying a small annual membership fee and hourly charge to use the service, councillors have agreed.
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The cost to members will be an annual fee of £5 and an hourly charge of £1.50 – a fraction of the actual cost to the council of £33.61 per hire.

Members of Falkirk Council’s executive agreed to the changes on Tuesday as part of a bigger review of transport planning that aims to reduce the council’s £1.6 million bill for transport.

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Members were told there is currently an overspend of £270,000 per year and this is not affordable given the council’s current budget gap of £64 million over the next five years.

Shopmobility allows people to hire wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Pic: Michael GillenShopmobility allows people to hire wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Pic: Michael Gillen
Shopmobility allows people to hire wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Pic: Michael Gillen

Falkirk Council’s Shopmobility scheme, which operates from the Howgate, offers a loan of mobility scooters and electric and manual wheelchairs, which are owned and maintained by Dial-a-Journey.

Members heard that the number of loans has decreased by 44 per cent in recent years – from 3499 in 2018/19 to 1956 in 2022/23.

Members agreed to follow Stirling Council’s example in making a small charge for the service.

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The charges mean that for Stirling Council residents there is a £5 annual membership fee and a £1 per hour hire charge. For non-Stirling Council residents there is a £1.50 per hour hire charge.

The charges will be introduced from April 1 next year and the success of the new scheme will be reviewed in October to see what impact they have made.

Michael McGuinness, Falkirk Council’s head of growth, planning and climate change, said that the changes were necessary to protect as many bus services as possible and keep communities in Falkirk connected.

The changes will also mean that all school crossing patrols in Falkirk district will not be under threat in next year’s budget.

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The council will also continue to provide a Dial-a-Journey service which gives disabled passengers assistance where required and has space for wheelchairs and mobility scooters where required.

Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn, leader of Falkirk Council said: “We are under immense financial pressure to find saving across all our services while at the same time maintaining other services that residents rely on.

“We have looked closely at public transport provision in the area and put forward these alterations that we feel will have less of an impact in communities as a compromise to continue with other services locally.”