Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Eastleigh council criticised for axing travel scheme

A council has been criticised after it cancelled a travel scheme enabling elderly and disabled people access to cheap or free public transport.

Eastleigh council said it believed an alternative scheme would offer a wider choice of travel options.

But a report by the Local Government Ombudsman found the authority did not take into account the move's impact.

Diane Andrews, from a group representing older people in the town, said the council had been "arrogant".

'Huge difference'

The authority suspended the concessionary travel token scheme in September 2008, which could be used by eligible disabled people and those aged over 70 for travel by bus or taxi.

It decided to stop issuing the travel tokens following the introduction of the National Bus Pass Scheme, which offered concessions for bus journeys only.

In her report, ombudsman Jane Martin said this decision "overlooked the need for the council to consider its own duty towards disabled people when making changes to its arrangements".

Ms Andrews, from the Eastleigh Southern Parishes Older Peoples' Forum, said the tokens made a "huge difference" to those in need.

She said: "Access to public transport for old people enables them to get up and about. [Without the tokens] they are stuck."

In a statement, the council said it was "disappointed" by the ruling but claimed it provides one of the widest range of travel options for disabled people, but it would consider the recommendations of the ombudsman and take an appropriate course of action.

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