Huntingdon Town Council to step in to fund shopmobility after district council cut

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 Town Council will step in to save the town’s Shopmobility scheme, following a decision by Huntingdonshire District Council to completely cut its funding.

The group, which has been running since 2006, has been told that it will not receive a penny more from the district council from March 31 after a decision was made by cabinet.

Debbie Drew, Shopmobility manager said: “We have also been told by the district council that we need to give them notice on the portable building by February 22 which means we don’t have long.”

Shopmobility lends wheelchairs and scooters to people with mobility problems when they are visiting the town centre, from its mobile base in the car park off Malthouse Close.

At an extraordinary meeting of the town council on Monday the authority proposed to contribute financially to meet the £10,000-a-year it costs to rent the portable building as well as the insurance and in the medium term to review the service to see if a compromise can be sort with the district council.

Mayor of Huntingdon Councillor Bill Hensley said: “We should look into using some of our community infrastructure levy money to help fund Shopmobility for a year.”

It was also put forward by Cllr Hensley that the council “should look at buying the building and giving it to Shopmobility.”

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The service, which has around 2,000 users annually, recently submitted a petition to the district council with 502 signatures to ask the authority to rethink the decision.

Mrs Drew told The Hunts Post: “In the manner of which it happened awful, we got a phone call saying we would get a press release and that was it - the whole process has been despicable.

“I was hoping that the town council could help and it gives us peace of mind that they can, it will give us another 12 months to find a more permanent location but it does not let the district council off the hook.”

The service previously received £30,000 from the council but after only being able to raise £17,500 of the £30,000 it needed to match-fund the district council’s cabinet decided to cut its future funding.

Cllr Ann Beevor said: “It is an important service for the town that some people rely on when coming into the centre and if it is not here they will go to Peterborough or Cambridge.”

The district council will debate the future of the scheme’s funding on February 24 with the town council making a final decision at a meeting of the full council on March 4.