Derbyshire pensioners’ plea to save ‘lifeline’ Dial-a-Bus service

Pensioners are pleading with council chiefs not to press ahead with cuts which could spell the end of their “lifeline” travel service.

Wednesday, 8th October 2014, 12:04 pm
Jack Harrison, Doris Hoff and Phyllis Thompson.

Derbyshire County Council is considering completely withdrawing funding for a number of community transport services, including Dial-a-Bus.

About 1,300 people with mobility problems rely on the doorstep service every month to go shopping and visit friends.

This week, the Derbyshire Times visited Sainsbury’s in Matlock to speak to a group of pensioners who use the Dial-a-Bus service run by Ripley-based Community Transport for Town and County.

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Jack Harrison, 79, of Wirksworth, said: “I’ve just had to hand my driving licence back to the DVLA because I’m unfit to drive – so this service is a first-class lifeline.

“It serves people who don’t live on a bus route so if the council goes ahead with these plans we could have elderly folk confined in their homes and left to vegitate.”

Doris Hoff, 84, also from Wirksworth, added: “My message to the council is simple – we need this service.”

Julie Holmes, who has been a driver for the service for ten years, said: “The proposals are casusing a lot of stress among some very vulnerable people.

“If we lose this service, there will be a feeling of complete and utter devastation.

“I hope the council sees sense and does the right thing by scrapping these plans,” she added.

aCTive travel – a door-to-door service which takes people to health appointments – also faces the axe.

And Wheels to Work – which operates a moped loan scheme for people needing to travel to work – would lose its £50,000-a-year funding.

In addition, the council is considering withdrawing £2.5million towards supported bus services by 2016/17.

The council is considering making the cuts as it needs to save £158m by 2018.

Councillor Andy Botham, cabinet member for jobs, economy and transport, said: “We’re having to think the unthinkable.

“We do not want to make these unrelenting cuts which will affect services that local people rely on but we have been left with no choice but to consider this and some very difficult decisions will have to be made.

“We will not take any decisions lightly and before we agree anything we need to understand what the impact of cutting or reducing funding for any of these transport services will be.”

A survey to find out how well-used the various community transport and council-funded bus services are is due to be carried out between October and December.

Further consultation, which will include online and paper questionnaires and face-to-face discussions, will potentially take place in 2015.