USERS of Cambridge City Council’s Shopmobility service, which operates from the Grand Arcade and Grafton East car parks, are being encouraged to give their views on proposed changes to the way it is financed, after councillors opted to introduce some charges for users.
The introduction of membership fees and hire charges for use of equipment will cover a loss of funding from Cambridgeshire County Council of £49,500. Members of the service would be eligible for a 50% reduction in hire charges.
The introduction of charges will enable the council to maintain important features of Shopmobility to the same standard, including:
- The hire of mobility scooters and mechanical wheelchairs to people who need mobility assistance;
- Collection of customers from Dial-A-Ride and local bus stops - those who have disabilities that impact on their mobility receive support to move between the Dial-A-Raid bus stops, allowing them to access ShopMobility;
- Escorted shopping trips of up to two hours - this service helps people with disabilities who need personal assistance to access shops and shopping
- Three hours’ free parking for all Shopmobility customers
Cambridge City Council is one of the very few councils that operate a shopping escort and dial-a-ride service.
Introducing membership fees and hire charges would bring the council into line with most other Shopmobility services in the country. The National Federation for Shopmobility confirms that only 14 of 140 members in the UK currently provide their service free of charge or on a donation basis.
Shopmobility costs £165,000 each year to run. Since Cambridgeshire County Council withdrew their proportion of funding in 2016 the shortfall has been met from the city council’s General Fund.
Customers wishing to have their say on proposals can email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete a comments form at either of the Shopmobility offices.
Cllr Kevin Blencowe, Executive Councillor for Planning Policy and Transport, said: “I hope that all Shopmobility users and those interested in the service will tell us their views on the proposed changes.
“It provides a well-valued service to residents and visitors, but in order to continue providing the service with reduced funding we are now having to charge for some aspects of the service.
“Introducing an annual membership fee and hire charges for equipment will bring the service in Cambridge into line with the vast majority of similar services in the UK.”