Concerning drop in disabled transport options put under scrutiny by Hartlepool councillors

The Taxi Rank in Raby Road
The Taxi Rank in Raby Road

Councillors are to investigate the availability of disabled accessible transport after concerns were raised.

A council meeting heard there had been a big drop in the number of wheelchair accessible taxis in Hartlepool and a bus service that ferries people between Hartlepool and North Tees hospitals is not accessible to disabled users.

People are concerned at the reduction in opportunities for people to remain independent.

Coun Stephen Thomas

The issue is to be referred to council scrutiny body the Audit and Governance Committee to be investigated further.

A meeting of the council’s Adult Services Committee heard the issues has ben highlighted recently by members of the public and disability groups.

Neil Harrison, head of service for child and adult services said: “Following discussions with local citizens, including representatives from the New Hartlepool MS Support Group, it has become apparent that people are concerned at the reduction in opportunities for people to remain independent.

“Accessible buses, coaches, trains and taxis make it easier for people to visit friends, get to the shops or to work, enabling people to play an active role in their communities and reducing the risk of social isolation.”

The council says access to transport within the borough is one of the top three priorities when consulting with adults with a disability.

Chair of the committee councillor Stephen Thomas said the issue with the hospital shuttle bus was one of the main reasons they were making the referral.

The meeting heard here were issues around availability of wheelchair accessible taxis.

Coun Thomas said: “There has been a significant reduction in the number of wheelchair accessible vehicles in town. It has gone down from 24 or 25 to five or six.”

Member of the public Sue Little, who operates Pauls Travel bus company, said the Dial A Ride bus service should be brought back.

Coun Thomas added: “I think it is a very justified referral. All the evidence that has come in suggests it is a worsening situation within the town.”