A major shake-up of shopmobility services used by hundreds of people across Cheshire West is being planned as part of council cost-saving measures.

Concerns have been raised by bosses at the Dial West Cheshire charity, which operates the service in Chester, Ellesmere Port and Northwich, about council plans to cut funding by £117,000 over the next two years.

Launched in 2007, the service provides daily use of mobility scooters, powered wheelchairs and manual wheelchairs to enable people with mobility difficulties to access shops and other facilities across the borough.

Bosses at the charity said it currently handles more than 3,000 mobility equipment bookings a year, totalling 130,000 hours from around 800 people.

The council currently provides the charity with a subsidy but wants to discontinue some of that financial support and create an alternative funding model instead.

At a recent meeting of the authority’s overview and scrutiny committee, an e-mail was read out from Keith Roper, Dial West Cheshire's chief officer.

He said: "The majority of the mobility equipment bookings are from disabled residents of Cheshire West and Chester from whom the service is a lifeline.

“Enabling disabled people to get out and independently go shopping, meet friends and do many of their day to day things which non-disabled people take for granted."

He added: “Whilst acknowledging the financial challenge facing the council, it is apparent the shopmobility cost-saving proposals are delivered purely by identifying discretionary expenditure without consideration of the needs of the people or the impact of the service upon the wider community.

"Commissioners have readily agreed there has not been any consultation or consideration of the impact upon disabled people, shops and businesses and visitor economy."

Responding, Cllr Sheila Little - cabinet member for adult social care - said it was ‘not the case’ the council was not consulting.

She said the remodelling would involve utilising research, demand data and information from people who use the service.

Cllr Little told members: "Over the next few months, we shall be working with organisations such as Dial and other community sector organisations to develop a sustainable business model for shopmobility, to be run by a community sector organisation as a commercial venture.”