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Gravesham council condemned for loss of mobility scooter rental scheme

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An 80-year-old disabled woman says she has been left housebound after a cost-cutting council was forced to cancel its mobility scooter rental scheme.

Gravesham council used to offer scooters at tourism hub Towncentric in St George’s Square, Gravesend. It was moved as part of a council economy drive last year, along with the rental service, to Gravesend Borough Market.

But with her mobility scooter having recently broken and the council unable to spend the cash needed to fix it, users like Rosemary White are now unable to get into town. She explained: “I used to get the taxi into town, which was £10 each way and get transferred onto the mobility scooter, but I didn’t mind paying because I wanted to get out of my house. Now I am stuck on my own indoors. My family is in Australia, my husband died eight years ago, so there’s no one to help me. I can’t have a scooter here at home because the garage is right at the end of the road, there’s no dropped kerb, and it’s too heavy for me to lift.”

If a solution is not found, Mrs White says she will be not be able to leave her home in Lorton Close, Gravesend. Wayne Busbridge, vice chairman of Gravesham Access Group that works to promote access for all, described the end of the scheme as “disgusting”. He commented: “It’s poor for the town because it’s going to lose revenue from people that would go shopping in the town but needed a bit of help. We have already got problems with accessibility into shops and other places. This is badly cutting on the few that can’t fight back. The work going on with this transport quarter round by the station means we have already lost disabled parking bays.”

Mr Busbridge said he would be raising the group’s concerns with the council, which has been implementing a number of spending cuts in recent months. A spokesman for Gravesham council said it “was not viable” to continue the scooter scheme because not enough people were using it before the last one broke. He commented: “The number of users of the scooter scheme has reduced significantly in recent years, and since January this year it has only been used by two people. The mobility scooter has recently developed a fault and is currently out of use. We recognise that this service was valued by those that used it, but at present it is not viable to get it fixed and put resources in place for it to be reinstated. However, we are currently in discussion with local partners to see whether others are better placed to develop a scheme.”

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