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Fight continues against disabled bus pass restrictions

4 minute read
Fight continues against disabled bus pass restrictions

Published by Carol Musgrave at 5:49am 1st April 2019.

A battle against a decision to withdraw disabled bus passes at certain times continues as new measures come into force in Surrey today.

A social enterprise in Frimley is concerned about the impact of the changes on its clients - with the passes now only valid after 9:30am and  before 11:30pm.

Frimhurst Enterprises is fighting the decision, saying its learning disabled clients will be affected especially by the restriction in the morning.

They say some struggle to deal with the transaction of paying for tickets on the bus.

There are also worries that clients will not be able to get to work or education on time - and that this will affect their independence and hamper their social life.

Pauline Robertson from Frimhurst Enterprises has started a petition against the move.

She is also campaigning Surrey County Council - and has formally asked them why they are discriminating against those with cognitive and communication difficulties.

She told Eagle two of her clients who used to catch the bus before 9:30am on their own, will now have to be accompanied by carers to get in to Frimley Green on time.

She said after four years of being able to travel independently, they will both now need one on one support from today.

The move will impact on their carers - the mother of one will have to work from home and the other will have to have a support worker with her.

Pauline said: "There are so many adults affected in Surrey and Surrey haven't carried out their Equality Impact Assessment fairly."

She said this was "clear discrimination against those with cognitive and communication difficulties."

This was the question Pauline put to Surrey County Council's cabinet last Tuesday (March 26).

"I run a supported work Social Enterprise for Adults with Learning Difficulties in Frimley Green.

"Three of our current team travel independently to work by bus. All three need to use bus before 9.30 am to arrive for work at 10 am. All three lack the communication and cognitive skills to ask for ticket and managed sorting money and collecting change.

"All three will now need to find support to help them on this journey therefore giving up some hard fought independence.

Why are Surrey CC discriminating against adults with disabilities who wish to access colleges, work, day services and adult education classes?"

In response, Cabinet Member for Environment and Waste Mike Goodman said difficult decisions had to be made because of funding pressures.

He said with regard to concern over some disabled bus pass holders lacking the communication and cognitive skills to deal with money, he said there several options to make journies "less onerous" and would help users maintain their independence.

This includes:

  • A Helping Hands Card scheme - a credit sized information card with written instructions for the bus driver, to make him or her aware of the customer's needs.
  • Buying a season ticket or preloaded smartcard ticket to avoid having to handle cash.
  • Opportunities to review the work start time.

Mr Goodman said the Council would also act as a link between voluntary and community organisations, and bus companies, to see what ticketing options are available for their disabled staff.

And he said the Council was continuing "to negotiate with bus companies to offer disabled bus pass holders reduced prices before 9:30am on Monday to Friday."

Discounts negotiated so far include:

  • Arriva: £1 flat fare to disabled pass holders before 09.30 Monday to Friday
  • Safeguard: £1.20 flat fare to disabled pass holders before 09.30 Monday to Friday
  • Stagecoach: Half fare to disabled pass holders before 09.30 Monday to Friday

However, Pauline has told Eagle that this is not good enough - and none of the solutions put forward by Mr Goodman are workable.

She said work placements should not have to start late, and that her clients need a one card payment option, rather than having to deal with more than one.


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