Littlehampton Shopmobility service, which hires out mobility equipment to local residents, breathed a sigh of relief recently when it received a £4,500 grant to pay for six new mobility scooters.
Trustees of the service were concerned they would be left high and dry after a group that had supposedly ‘gifted’ six mobility scooters to the service in 2013 asked for them to be returned.
The Shopmobility service had been under the impression that local charity, Sussex Masonic Charities (SMC), had gifted the scooters but it has since emerged that ownership belonged to the charity and later transferred to Eastbourne dealer, Weald Mobility.
Vicky Rhodes, chairman of Littlehampton Shopmobility, told a local newspaper that the service had been ‘shocked’ to learn it did not own the mobility scooters.
She told the Littlehampton Gazette: “We couldn’t believe it when they asked for them back. It is shocking behaviour.”
However, a successful bid to another charitable foundation saw a donation of £4,554 made to the Shopmobility, which has been used to purchase new scooters owned outright by the service.
Mike Harris, chairman of SMC, told the newspaper that the SMC had not intended for the old scooters to be returned to the charity and that trustees were determined the service should have use of the scooters.
SMC has purchased nearly 70 mobility scooters for the use of Shopmobility and has funded equipment maintenance over the years.
SMC has now left the operation of the relationship between Shopmobility and Weald Mobility, which owns and maintains the equipment.
Chris Davies, partner of Weald Mobility, told the Littlehampton Gazette that the scooters had been collected by the dealer at the request of Littlehampton Shopmobility.
He said: “The idea was for them to carry on using them, all they had to do was pay £35 per scooter to maintain them. They didn’t want to pay it. We didn’t want to pick them up, it was a shame.”