Shock as transport service is suspended

News. Photo: Shutterstock SUS-150807-174836001
News. Photo: Shutterstock SUS-150807-174836001

Disabled and elderly people in Horsham, Crawley and Mid Sussex have spoken of their shock after they were left in the lurch when a transport service was suddenly suspended last week.

No prior warning was given until The Horsham District Community Transport service suddenly announced it was ceasing operation on Thursday.

Wheelchair users, disabled children and stroke patients were among those hit hard when they suddenly found themselves without transport.

The former Dial-A-Ride charity service supplies low-cost minibuses and taxis to help ferry people to medical, as well as social appointments.

Electric wheelchair user Penny Mason frequently uses the service to get to appointments from her Horsham home. “There isn’t a taxi firm in Horsham that can take wheelchairs,” she said as she was left looking for alternative transport on Friday.

“I had a journey booked for today and I’m going to have to cancel dental appointments I have for next week.”

Ann Wilson, assistant manager at the Phoenix Stroke Club in Horsham, said: “It’s disastrous. We had booked three minibuses for two outings to Worthing next week. I’m now trying to find an alternative.”

The stroke club uses the community transport service every day. It runs a day centre, providing meals and entertainment, holds drop-in sessions three times a week and weekly speech therapy sessions, as well as providing respite for members’ carers.

A spokeswoman for West Sussex County Council said: “We are aware that some services covering the Crawley, Mid Sussex and Horsham districts have been suspended until further notice. The services are operated by Community Transport Sussex, which is an independent organisation.

“We advise that anyone with concerns should first speak to the community transport provider for advice. If no alternative community transport is available, the only other option may be a private hire taxi.

“The county council is working with Community Transport Sussex on a solution and we hope to have further information soon.”

Meanwhile, Horsham District Community Transport chairman John Griffiths said he was unable to comment at the moment.

Age UK Horsham District executive Sonia Mangan said: “We are trying to support people by providing alternative transport. I am grateful to local taxi companies and volunteers who have stepped forward to make sure that people who are socially isolated can still access things they need to access.”

She said anyone who needed help could contact Age Uk Horsham on 01403 260560.

Have you been affected by the sudden suspension of the service? Email ct.news@jpress.co.uk