Yorkshire mobility retailer, Clark & Partners, has opened a new showroom in Sheffield after the council pulled its £14,000 lifeline for the local Shopmobility service.
Shopmobility was invited to bid for a new tender with the authority but instead the council lost out to the private mobility retailer, which has opened a shop running the new Mobile Sheffield scheme in The Moor Market.
The Mobile Sheffield scheme is funded by Sheffield Council and the Sheffield Business Improvement District (BID) and the new store will offer services including scooters, wheelchairs, stairlifts, wide fitting footwear and specialist seating.
Clark & Partners’ new store will offer demonstrations of its products, home adaptations advice on ramps, lifts and adaptable bathrooms and service and repairs on all mobility products.
Paul Bennett, managing director of Clark & Partners, said: “As a Sheffield company since 1959 we are proud to be working alongside Sheffield City Council on this exciting new scheme.
“Over many years we have enjoyed the privilege of helping the people of Sheffield and the surrounding area to keep mobile both indoors and out. To now be delivering the all-new Mobile Sheffield scheme is a special opportunity to bring mobility to anyone visiting Sheffield.
“The changes to The Moor and Sheffield city centre come at an ideal time for the Mobile Sheffield scheme. Accessibility has been high on the council’s agenda and so many of the old barriers are gone, with level access and pedestrianisation making life so much easier for the Mobile Sheffield scheme users.”
Shopmobility reportedly said it had to make the tough decision to raise hire prices after the funding cut. Mark Arber, who runs the local service, told the Star: “We’ve had to put a pound on prices and although it may not sound a lot, if you use the service several times a week, it soon adds up for people on low incomes.
“I truly believe that people with disabilities should be able to access scooters and wheelchairs for free. For me, as an able-bodied person can get about for free then people who don’t have that luxury. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work like that at the moment. We’re squeezed every year and we keep on swimming up stream – we keep on going.”
Meanwhile, speaking about Clark & Partners’ new scheme, Diane Jarvis, manager of Sheffield BID, said: “One of the BID’s core aims is to make it easier for everyone to access and navigate the city centre. This scheme is an important step in helping to develop a disability-friendly city. It also demonstrates the city centre’s commitment to being inclusive. We want to ensure that access is not an issue for people with a disability.
“The city centre hosts an amazing selection of bars, restaurants, retailers and leisure activities. We want people with disabilities to be able to enjoy everything Sheffield City Centre has to offer. A disability shouldn’t be a barrier to experiencing the city centre. This scheme will help to ensure we meet our aim of access to all.”
Clark & Partners now has 10 showrooms and an ecommerce operation offering a range of mobility products. It is a major player on the retail scene in the Yorkshire area.