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Taxi token scheme could face the axe

PUBLISHED: 15:18 19 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:05 03 July 2010

DOUBT has been cast over the long-term future of a taxi token scheme after the completion of two successful trials.

The tokens have given the freedom of travel to people, who have in many cases, been unable to get out and about.

DOUBT has been cast over the long-term future of a taxi token scheme after the completion of two successful trials.

The tokens have given the freedom of travel to people, who have in many cases, been unable to get out and about.

It was hoped to set up a permanent scheme in the borough from April, but funding is now unlikely to be available.

A total of 41 people, who qualify for concessionary bus passes, took part in the latest three month trial. All those provided with tokens suffer from a variety of disabilities and are unable to use the regular bus service.

Scratby pensioner Betty Brown was among those to take advantage of the tokens she described as a “lifeline.”

She said: “I have to use a wheelchair and crutches, and having the taxi tokens really gave me my independence.

“I think it is a brilliant scheme, taxis are very expensive and being on a pension cannot afford to use them. I was able to visit a friend who is housebound who I normally only speak to on the phone. I really hope this can be made permanent why should people who cannot use buses be discriminated against.

Jeffrey Hall, from Caister, who has been confined to a wheelchair for 19 years since suffering a stroke, was full of praise for the scheme. He said: “I had a heart attack just before Christmas and was able to get to medical appointments using the taxi.

“It provided a wonderful service and I would be terribly disappointed if the scheme could not be made permanent.”

The taxi token trials were organised by Community Connections' rural transport development officer Tony Rozier.

Mr Rozier had calculated each taxi token would cost £280 a year and branded any decision not to provide funding as “discrimination.”

He said: “Previously Great Yarmouth Borough Council was positive about making the scheme permanent, now we are getting a lukewarm, if not negative, response. I'm confident there is enough money to include taxi tokens and other community transport schemes in the concessionary fares scheme. To not provide them would be discriminating against the people using the scheme.”

Council leader Barry Coleman told the Mercury: “We have already overspent on concessionary fares funding, so it would need to be funded from other sources such as the second homes council tax.”

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