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Grant helps pay for new scooters

A new fleet of mobility scooters has been rolled out in Bridgend town centre after the Shopmobility service received a £20,000 grant from Welsh Government.

The service which is operated by Bridgend County Borough Council lends powered scooters and wheelchairs to members of the public with limited mobility to shop and attend appointments in the town centre.

Thirteen new scooters and two electric wheelchairs have now been purchased with the grant, replacing those which were more than a decade old.

The old stock was looking a little worse for wear and as a result, they were not suited to certain types of weather conditions. This grant has enabled us to fund replacements and contribute £4,000 to this year’s running costs of the facility. The service is not only for blue badge holders, it’s for anyone with mobility issues.

By using Bridgend Community Transport’s town rider service, people can be picked up from outside their front door, dropped off at Shopmobility where they can hire a scooter to get around town, and then be picked up by the community bus and taken home again, depending on availability.

The council’s cabinet member for communities Richard Young

The Shopmobility service - located in the multi-storey car park in Brackla Street - is used around 4,000 times year by people hiring scooters and wheelchairs. 

It had been threatened with closure due to budget cuts but following a public consultation the council has now decided to maintain the service.

However, to help protect the service from future closure, customers hiring mobility scooters will be charged for the first time from April 1.

Customers will be asked to pay a £5 annual registration fee and a daily hire charge of £3.

The registration fee includes the first hire charge of a scooter while each £3 hire charge includes free parking in the Brackla Street multi-storey car park for the duration of a customer’s visit.

For the last 15 years customers have only been asked to pay a £2 deposit to hire a scooter – although many people actually donate the £2 to help support the service.

From April, the opening hours of the service will also be slightly reduced – opening 45 minutes later, at 9.15am, and closing an hour earlier, at 4pm.

Cllr Young said: “A number of local authorities no longer have a Shopmobility service because it’s not considered to be a statutory duty to provide the service but we are aware of how much it is valued.

“We hope these new measures will help ensure the sustainability of the service in the future.”

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