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13 February 2007

Stevenson urges council rethink on disabled travel - Buchan Observer

BANFF and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson has urged Aberdeenshire Council to look again at its decision to reduce the eligibility for taxicards for disabled persons.

Mr Stevenson has written to the council following approaches from constituents and disabled groups who say that the move has not been fully thought out.

The local authority has written to taxicard holders advising those who hold a Blue Badge or have access to a vehicle that they will no longer be eligible for a taxicard. Mr Stevenson said:

"On the face of it, this must have seemed like a sensible decision to the council in order to reduce its costs. However, the decision has clearly not been thought through carefully enough as many people are going to be disadvantaged by this change in policy.

"For example, Multiple Sclerosis sufferers, whose condition fluctuates so that they are able to drive on some days but not on others when their condition worsens have to fall back on taxicards in order to get around.

"Likewise people who qualify for a Blue Badge or Motability car due to their medical disability but who are advised not to drive for periods following treatment for their condition in hospital. They, too, are being left at a disadvantage because of this ruling.

"It is just not as simple as saying that people with a Blue Badge or access to their own Motability car don't need taxicards. I'm sure that given the choice, most people in that position will always choose their independence and the convenience of travelling under their own steam, which in itself saves the council money.

"But by forcing people to choose between the two, I'm afraid the council is not only placing some disabled people at a disadvantage, but may actually end up costing the council-taxpayer more money as people opt for the taxicard scheme which they know they will always be able to use whether they have a 'good day', in the case of MS sufferers, or not."

to read the original article click on Buchan Observer

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