Dis­abled group’s fears as bus life­line is axed

Club could fold af­ter coun­cil cuts vi­tal trans­port

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Niki Ten­nant

A group of dis­abled peo­ple fear for the fu­ture of their long-es­tab­lished club af­ter the coun­cil an­nounced it is to axe the bus ser­vice that has been their life­line.

South La­nark­shire Coun­cil broke the news to the East­field Phys­i­cally Dis­abled Club com­mit­tee that the blue bus that has taken mem­bers to the club from Half­way, Cam­bus­lang and Ruther­glen since it was founded 30 years ago is to be with­drawn.

The ser­vice, which will be scrapped from March 31, has al­lowed peo­ple who have a dis­abil­ity the op­por­tu­nity to get out of the house and en­joy the com­pany of oth­ers.

The loss of the free bus, which has been funded by the so­cial work depart­ment, means many mem­bers will no longer be able to en­joy the weekly get-to­gether.

Com­mit­tee mem­ber Liz Stubbs (58) of Half­way says with­drawal of the trans­port puts the fu­ture of the club in jeop­ardy.

“A lot of our dis­abled mem­bers do not get out at any other time. For wheel­chair users, this meet­ing is all they have got. It is dif­fi­cult enough for us to run the club our­selves with­out hav­ing to run a bus ser­vice too,” hit out Liz, whose club has 21 mem­bers.

“The mem­bers are re­ally dis­ap­pointed. Fam­i­lies who are look­ing af­ter peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties get a cou­ple of hours’ break when the peo­ple they care for are at the club, so it is go­ing to af­fect them too.

“The club teach mem­bers to mix with peo­ple and learn new things. I can’t be­lieve af­ter all these years we’re to lose the bus.”

Liz says other sup­port groups will be af­fected by the end of the bus ser­vice, in­clud­ing the Robin Club, which sup­ports peo­ple with learn­ing dis­abil­i­ties.

The scrap­ping of the ser­vice means mem­bers will no longer be able to en­joy their an­nual out­ing un­less they hire a bus at the cost of at least £400.

The club have tra­di­tion­ally re­ceived a grant to fund their Christ­mas din­ner – but that too has been axed by coun­cil chiefs.

“I’d ask those at the coun­cil who make these de­ci­sions to put them­selves in the po­si­tion of our mem­bers,” said Liz, who says the loss of the bus ser­vice will dras­ti­cally af­fect peo­ple like Betty Gal­lagher of Ruther­glen, who has been at­tend­ing the club for 30 years.

“The bus driver comes in for a chat when he drops ev­ery­one off – and we’ll miss his com­pany too.”

A South La­nark­shire Coun­cil spokesper­son said: “The coun­cil are work­ing with the group to iden­tify al­ter­na­tive trans­port op­tions.

“We have met with them and of­fered to help iden­tify how many miles they travel each club day and pro­vide them with a list of com­mu­nity trans­port groups.

“Once that has been es­tab­lished we will help them ex­plore fund­ing and grant op­tions.”

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