Desperate scramble to save mobility centre after ‘bolt out of the blue’ letter

A mobility equipment hire service in Scotland has a desperate fight on its hands to save itself after it received a letter last week stating that it is set to be stripped of its local government funding.

Lothian Shopmobility in Livingston, which has been loaning mobility scooters and aids to West Lothian residents since 1991, relies on council funding to operate.

It has now launched a last-minute funding push in attempt to raise £35,000 so it can continue for another year.

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MSP Angela Constance slammed the council’s decision to withdraw funding for the mobility scheme, describing the decision as a ‘bolt out of the blue’ for the organisation and its six members of staff.

She said: “This is a short-sighted decision by the council meaning hundreds of local people battling disability will be less independent, less able to do their shopping and less able to attend medical appointments.

“I am writing to the council asking them to urgently reconsider this decision given that their resource funding for the next financial year will increase by £7.5 million, and if they will be picking up the costs of assisting people with their shopping and appointments.

“This decision is also bad for business therefore I will also write to the shopping centre management and local retailers to ask what assistance they can offer this organisation.”

West Lothian Council has been forced to make cutbacks of £16m in its annual budget, which has resulted in a number of local services having their funds withdrawn.

The organisers of the scheme are concerned users who rely on the service will be left immobile and without social interaction.

Lothian Shopmobility has launched a Just Giving page to raise the necessary funds and in a social media post thanked those that have offered their help and support.

It said: “We are hoping to get some sort of donation page going and if anyone can manage to donate a wee something we would be grateful.

“We know this is a big ask and not everyone is in a position to give. But if you can that would be a great help.”

The Just Giving page has so far raised just £80 of the £35,000 needed.

The council told a local newspaper that it has a near £700,000 shortfall in its budget to be allocated to such organisations. It pledged to grant voluntary organisations and services £1m of funding next year.

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Joe Peskett

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