Fears cuts will hit ‘isolated’ elderly’

Colin Dyson Centre mini bus problem.'from left, Trustee Josie Marsters  service user Irene Thorley, Co Coun. Keith Longdon, and service users Vivian and Margaret Hunt.
Colin Dyson Centre mini bus problem.'from left, Trustee Josie Marsters service user Irene Thorley, Co Coun. Keith Longdon, and service users Vivian and Margaret Hunt.

‘Isolated and vulnerable’ pensioners will be hit hard if a community transport scheme is axed as a result of council cuts, it has been claimed.

It is feared that funding for such initiatives could be scrapped as Notts County Council comes up with plans to cuts its spending by £154million over three years.

In the firing line is the scheme that transports the elderly to a ‘lifeline’ Age Concern lunch club in Eastwood.

The threat to its future has been described as ‘horrensous’ by the group that runs the club.

Treasurer of the Age Concern lunch group, Josie Marsters said: “We are here for the elderly, isolated and vulnerable.

“The only time some of these people leave their homes all week is via the transport scheme.

“One woman said to me the other day ‘if they take this away I shall never get out again’. For many this is their only entertainment.”

Mrs Marsters has five volunteer drivers helping with lifts, but not everybody is able to get in and out of a car, and at least 20 members rely on the community ambulance.

She added: “I can understand it being an expensive commodity, but these people have worked and paid into the system all their lives. They are not the scroungers of our society – they are hard working people. They deserve more.”

The council has now put forward 120 budget-saving proposals to be consulted on into the New Year

Cllr Muriel Weisz, chairman of the council’s adult social care and health committee, said: “We are facing our toughest budget challenge yet and have a £154 million budget gap.

“We currently spend over £3m a year on transporting people, which is more than most other local authorities, and we need to redirect some of this money into providing crucial social care services.

“Some other lunch clubs arrange transport for people, so we encourage affected groups to explore this option.”

The Age Concern lunch club takes place at the Colin Dyson Centre in Edward Road Mondays to Thursdays.