Send us news, start your message Cheshire News and your send photos and videos to 80360
Age UK concerned over Dial a Ride changes
A CHARITY is concerned that plans to begin charging for a free minibus service could cause those who rely on it to become isolated and lonely.
Age UK Cheshire spoke out after Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) announced that users of the Dial a Ride service will be expected to pay £3 each way when its new ticketing policy is introduced from April 1.
CWAC says the changes will enable an estimated £165,000 per year to be reinvested into the service, but Age UK feels the council should undertake a full impact assessment before any changes are made.
CEO Ken Clemens said: “Dial a Ride was set up to meet in part some of the transport needs of disabled and older people with mobility problems, and to help mitigate against discrimination.
“It plays a vital role in helping this part of our population to access medical and social care, and to assist people in living a more connected and sociable life.
“The changes proposed to the Dial a Ride regulations will not help to address the level of isolation and loneliness experienced by far too many of our older population, especially those whose restricted mobility makes it hard to get about and socialise.
“The impact of the changes to Dial a Ride may well end up costing the local tax payer far more, as people will become isolated, less socially connected, and this in tune will lead to the requirement of more frequent and more expensive interventions that could lead to even more pressure on our hard pressed acute services.
“The council should undertake a full impact assessment as to the changes to Dial a Ride will have, including a cost benefit analysis in respect to the impact these changes could potentially have on the costs for a range of public bodies.
“It should endeavour to consider the wider strategic impact of these changes, and then act in a more joined up way to the benefit of all its citizens and partners.”
Wakefield Court resident David Mason wrote to the Guardian and echoed the concerns of Age UK.
He said: “The effect of this policy means that Dial a Ride will have to charge the user, which will reduce usage and ultimately lead to the collapse of the service.
“This will have some of us unable to get out and about as regularly as we do now unless we cut back on other things.
“This can only make life more stressful for those affected.
“Without the stimulus that a trip out gives many of us, the elderly, our horizons will shrink dramatically.”