Transport for some of Norfolk’s vulnerable people to be taken away

PUBLISHED: 12:34 03 September 2018 | UPDATED: 07:01 04 September 2018

Some adult social services users could have to rely on buses to get around as council bosses look to slash transport costs. Pic: Colin Finch.

Some adult social services users could have to rely on buses to get around as council bosses look to slash transport costs. Pic: Colin Finch.

Transport for some of Norfolk’s vulnerable people is to be taken away, with councillors saying they will be handed more freedom if they use public transport instead.

But the move has been criticised by opposition councillors, who fear the county’s bus services might not be good enough for the policy to be workable.

With Norfolk County Council’s budgets under increasing pressure as the government shakes up how authorities are funded, adult social services needs to save £54m by 2022.

As part of an effort to cut £1.7m over two years from the £6.1m spent annually on travel and transport for people, County Hall officers asked councillors on the adult social care committee to agree controversial changes.

It will see people who get adult social care - such as adults with learning disabilities - referred to a team which would assess whether they could potentially travel on public transport or on contract buses, after training.

All service users assessed as suitable would have to undertake travel independence training.

Anyone assessed as being suitable for that would have to willingly participate, or the council could withdraw specialist transport, such as taxis.

But Liberal Democrat Brian Watkins said the council should not be using a “big stick” to get people on to public transport and it should be a voluntary, not enforced move, for those assessed as suitable.

He said: “For many service users, this change of policy will be unsettling and very upsetting.

“There is real concern it could lead to deterioration of physical and mental health.”

He said he hoped it would not lead to anybody taking their lives.

That led to an angry response from Conservative Thomas Smith.

Earlier, he had said the training would give more people freedom and branded Mr Watkins’s remarks as “abhorrent”.

He said: “You, lying about what we are trying to do is outrageous. I sincerely hope you will apologise. Some of us have some shred of morality.”

Mr Watkins said Mr Smith had not listened properly to what he had said.

Officers said, in a pilot project, of 380 assessed, 258 were not considered suitable for travel training, but 116 were.

Of those who were, 29 opted not to take part, while 45 were travel trained.

The council says, as well as saving money, such as through decommissioning of specialist buses, there are benefits to service users and their families by helping people to become more independent.

Labour’s Brenda Jones said she was concerned about the availability of public transport.

She proposed an amendment that the policy be accompanied by a robust assessment of the availability of public transport.

But that was lost, as was a Lib Dem proposal that travel training should be encouraged, rather than expected.

The committee then voted to agree to the policy change.

Other News

34 minutes ago

The owner of a hotel in Great Yarmouth has put his 41 bedroom landmark building up for sale to “test its valuation” following two years of substantial investment.

Few places nationwide voted more in favour of leaving the European Union than Great Yarmouth.


The sister of murder victim Hannah Witheridge has described as an “absolute atrocity” the actions of a tormenter troll who set up a “dark and unusual” fake profile in Hannah’s name

A young girl left severely disabled after mistakes were made during her birth at a Norfolk hospital will receive an extra £600,000 in damages.

Most Read

Yesterday, 12:29

Police are appealing for help to trace a woman following a theft in Great Yarmouth.

Read more
Tue, 13:10

The man who was killed in a fatal stabbing in Great Yarmouth has been named.

Read more
Norwich Magistrates Court
Yesterday, 14:51

Homes are going up on a pub’s garden as it looks for ways to thrive.

Read more
Yesterday, 12:20

Residents in Great Yarmouth will be able to enjoy having their favourite fast food orders delivered right to their doorstep thanks to a new delivery service.

Read more
Mon, 11:17

A man remains in hospital with serious injuries after his car crashed into a telephone pole and tree before landing in a ditch.

Read more
Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 13°C

min temp: 9°C

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the Great
Yarmouth Mercury

e-edition today


Newsletter Sign Up

Great Yarmouth Mercury weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy