District council give shopmobility three months to find new accommodation

At Huntingdon Shopmobility, are (l-r) Chairman of the Trustees Linda Davies, with Manager Debbie Dre

At Huntingdon Shopmobility, are (l-r) Chairman of the Trustees Linda Davies, with Manager Debbie Drew, - Credit: Archant

Huntingdon’s Shopmobility scheme has been given a lifeline after the district council has made a u-turn on its accommodation – but only for three months.

Following a petition handed in by Debbie Drew, Shopmobility manager, Huntingdonshire District Council has decided to continue the funding on its portable building in the car park off Malthouse Close.

At a district council meeting on February 24 Liberal Democrat councillor for Huntingdon East Steve Greenall said: “The people that use this service are vulnerable and elderly, they weren’t the ones who asked for the High Street to be pedestrianised in the first place so they shouldn’t be penalised.”

This decision means that the scheme now has until the beginning of July to find alternative accommodation in the town or make arrangements with PortaKabin.

Mrs Drew told The Hunts Post: “What they have given me is a bit of time to sort out a place for the scheme to run. I was really hoping for 12 months but with the money that we hope to get from the town council we will certainly have more time.

“We are hoping that we can talk to the district council about providing us with space with the foyer of Pathfinder House this will mean they won’t have to fund our accommodation.”

The news comes as Huntingdon Town Council has deferred on giving previously agreed funds to the scheme.

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At an extraordinary meeting of the town council last month members supported a notion to give £10,000 of community infrastructure levy to Shopmobility but it was announced that this will now be lowered to £6,000 in the light of the district council’s decision.

At full council on Thursday (March 3) members heard that the organisation had around £44,000 in reserves and agreed to defer a definitive agreement till more information can be sought.

The Shopmobility scheme had its funding cut by district council cabinet last month after it failed to match fund the required £30,000 to be able to receive further funds for 2016/17.

In response, executive leader of the district council Councillor Jason Ablewhite said: “There were certain expectations that need to be met going forward in terms of grant funding and we have also picked up some of the slack from the county council cuts.

“We have given Shopmobility an extra three months so it gives them more time to find a building to be housed in.”