A Fife MSP is urging the council not to cut its funding of a scheme which lends wheelchairs and electric scooters to shoppers with disabilities.
Labour MSP Jayne Baxter has written to Fife Council leader David Ross to express concerns at what she described as a “serious threat” to the future of services provided by Fife Shopmobility from its town centre locations in Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes.
Fife Shopmobility helps people with reduced mobility to be able to shop in town centres through the loan of mobility scooters and wheelchairs, and assistance, from a companion shopper where needed.
Over 20,000 loans of equipment are made each year to people in town centres.
Ms Baxter said: “The proposal to stop the annual funding of £141,000 from 2017 is included in a document called ‘Additional Savings Proposals’ within Fife Council’s draft budget.
“I must stress I understand the enormous and very worrying impact that John Swinney’s budget cuts are having on Fife Council services, and I do not envy the councillors and managers having to make such tough decisions.
“However, I believe the impact of removing this support would be disproportionately unfair on people with disabilities and have a negative economic impact on the towns concerned.
“The closure of this service would mean 20,000 visits to our town centres would be made so much more difficult, if not impossible. The impact on social isolation and well-being cannot be calculated.”
Ms Baxter has asked the council leader to provide the equality impact assessment which accompanies this proposed funding cut, and information on what consultation, if any, has taken place.
She added: “I have stressed the negative impact of any closure on disabled people, and on the economies of Fife’s town centres.”
Decisions on cuts will be taken at Fife Council’s budget meeting on February 11.