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Harrow Council refuses to u-turn on Taxicard cuts
The council has refused to reinstate subsidised taxi journeys for disabled elderly people but has pledged to fight further cuts to the scheme.
Campaigners have written to Harrow Council pleading that cuts to the Taxicard service that mean elderly people who hold a Freedom Pass for public transport or a disabled blue badge had their number of taxi journeys cut by half – to 52 a year – be reversed.
The service, which has 90,000 members across London, gives disabled people who have complex problems and struggle to use public transport a lifeline by paying for door-to-door taxi trips, but in April Harrow Council cut subsidised trips after reductions in funding from umbrella body London Councils and Transport for London (TfL).
The Harrow Times has heard from many users of the scheme, many in their late 80s or early 90s with serious mobility problems, who have already used most of their allocated journeys and are scared they will be trapped in their home until April when they receive more.
But Councillor Sachin Shah, portfolio holder for finance, blamed the cuts on Harrow receiving fewer subsidies from TfL, despite neighbouring councils retaining the scheme.
He said: “I fully understand the value and importance of the Taxicard scheme, which provides enhanced living opportunities to our residents and was a key reason why it was protected from council cuts.
“I will fight for the scheme and will campaign against any more cuts by TfL.
“I will be writing to the chair of TfL, Mayor Boris Johnson, on behalf of all Harrow residents to ask that no more cuts be made in the budget for the Taxicard scheme.”
Richmond upon Thames Council took a similar approach to Harrow last year, but after an uproar from campaigners and research that showed that disabled people were leaving home less as a result of the changes, they reversed the limit of 54 journeys on those with a Freedom Pass or blue badge and reinstated it to 104.