Ely & Soham Dial-a-Ride is a lifeline for its 700 members - so cuts to its funding are short-sighted

PUBLISHED: 15:37 15 January 2015 | UPDATED: 15:37 15 January 2015

Ely & Soham Dial-a-Ride provides a much-needed service to vulnerable members of our villages in East Cambridgeshire.

They transport people to hospitals, doctors, dentists and weekly shopping.

This probably does not sound like very much to those that drive cars, or are able to walk to the bus stop (if they have a bus in their villages, as not all villages do).

But for the 700 members this is a lifeline. Most members are elderly and/or disabled and rely totally on the services of Dial-a-Ride to get them out of their homes.

This service also stops people becoming lonely and isolated.

There won’t be any community transport within Ely and surrounding villages if Ely & Soham Dial-a-Ride ceases. It is very short-sighted of the councils not to support community transport.

It will cost the NHS and social services much more if these 700 members have to rely on using much more expensive ambulances to transport them to hospital for their appointments and taxis to day centres.

Pensioners will become isolated, prisoners in their own homes and suffer from depression, all adding to extra adult social care cost to the council in the long term.

Dial-a-Ride has been my soapbox ever since the Tories at East Cambridgeshire District Council stopped the grant funding five years ago.

Even on November 12 at the commercial services meeting, I was arguing that the money about to be spent on signs stating “free car parking in Ely” was a total waste of money when Dial-a-Ride is talking about closing down due to funding cuts.

I put forward a motion to support Dial-a-Ride at full council, last Thursday, which was agreed unanimously along with an agenda item to give Dial-a-Ride £15,000 in next year’s budget.

I just hope this is not too little too late!

At their meeting in December, Cambridgeshire county councillors also agreed to look into giving Dial-a-Ride some help.

CLLR PAULINE WILSON

Liberal Democrat Councillor, Haddenham Ward

Via e-mail

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