Campaigners who staged protests to save the Shopmobility service in two North Lanarkshire town centres have welcomed news of its planned reprieve.
But they say they are still in a difficult position with provision unavailable for the next FIVE months.
Mobility hubs in Coatbridge and Motherwell are currently being reviewed by Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire (VANL), who stepped in when the Health and Wellness Hub charity - which had run them since 2019 - announced the services were “not financially viable”.
That meant they were set to close at the end of October, however, VANL is now reviewing the service with a view to resuming in April 2023.
However, that means scooters and wheelchairs previously hired out will be stored away until then, meaning disabled service users are currently without that assistance.
Shopmobility user John Sharp led the campaign against the loss of the Coatbridge hub alongside mum, Margaret.
He told Lanarkshire Live: “We’re pleased there’s a deal.
"It had looked like a lost cause, so we’re over the moon that it’s saved and this has given a bit of hope. But we have questions, like where the service is going to be and when it will open.
"Mobility equipment not being available for five months leaves us in the same position for now as if it had closed down, which is that we won’t be able to access the town centre over Christmas and New Year.
“Service users also want to be consulted if it’s going to be moving – it needs to have its own car park so that disabled people can get a car or taxi right up to the front door.”
Local MSPs have been working with the campaigners since the closure was announced and say they will try to ensure scooter and wheelchair provision could be made available earlier than April.
Coatbridge representative Fulton MacGregor told Lanarkshire Live: “I've had discussions with VANL and offered my support in moving forward.
“I’m hopeful they'll be able to work to resume services ahead of April, as at present users may be left without access to Main Street and other services right throughout winter and over the festive period.
"There is still work to be done, but in the meantime, well done to the campaigners on this big step forward.”
Motherwell MP Marion Fellows, who is the SNP’s Westminster spokeswoman for disabilities, was “deeply concerned" by the sudden and unexpected decision to close Shopmobility.
She told us : “VANL are conducting a review, but it will be a few months before they report back.
“This will have a devasting impact on disabled people and others who use it to access essential services such as doctors, pharmacies and grocery stores.
"I want to reassure those who have campaigned so well for retaining this service that I'll continue to press for its return as soon as possible.”
Previous operators from the Health and Wellness Hub said: “We appreciate how stressful this situation has been for everyone involved, but we hope that a temporary hold is better than a complete closure.”
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