Outrage over rise in OAP transport costs

RELATIVES of a string of vulnerable elderly people told of their outrage today after a Suffolk charity was forced to increase the cost of its transport service by up to 300 percent.

Tom Potter

RELATIVES of a string of vulnerable elderly people told of their outrage today after a Suffolk charity was forced to increase the cost of its transport service by up to 300 percent.

Until last week one Ipswich man was paying £11.96 for his 88-year-old mother's four mile round trip from her house in St Augustine's Gardens to Crabbe Street residential home - but now he is expected to fork out £32.50.

According to Suffolk ACRE, the charity which provides the minibus service, the reason for the huge increase is down to the costs associated with transport having risen considerably in the last few months.

Ed Day, director of resources at Suffolk ACRE, said the service had steadily been losing money for about the last 18 months.

He said: “During that period we have been looking at all the ways we can of bringing it back to breaking even without affecting fares. We decided to change the rates and charges per hour that people use the vehicle.”

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But Terry Stevens, of Grantham Crescent, Ipswich, was so outraged by the increase that he decided to find a more affordable alternative.

He said: “I've had to make arrangements to get a taxi to pick my mother up and drop her off instead.

“The taxi firm will do it for £5 each way, so not only is it in line with Suffolk ACRE's old prices, it's actually cheaper.”

Sallie Taverner's 86-year-old mother, Margaret, also makes a weekly visit to Crabbe Street. Her short return journey has risen from £17 to £39.

She said: “I appreciate that the price of services is going up but this seems an unreasonable increase.

“Mum is in a wheelchair and we really need someone there to make sure she gets in and out of the house safely.”

Suffolk County Council said the price hike is likely to affect at least 20 people who rely on the service to get to and from Crabbe Street.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “We understand that Suffolk ACRE's decision is based on a number of factors from fuel prices to increased hourly rates.

“However a sudden price increase like this is difficult for people to budget for and it is absolutely vital that people who need to use our services and day care centres like Crabbe Street still can and are not deterred by the transport costs.

“For this reason we have been providing assistance for these customers and we will also be reviewing our customers' transports needs to make sure that they can still access the services they need and want to.”

Have you been affected by the changes to Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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