Over 65 local Community Groups are facing an uncertain future following news that Croydon’s only community transport service has had valuable transport contracts taken away from them by Croydon's Labour-run Council.
Many pensioners fear for the future of their lunch clubs which not only provide a hot meal but a number of other services that help prevent isolation.
Croydon Accessible Transport Service (CATS) recently lost their contracts to run school transport services. After a Council procurement process these contracts have been awarded to Hackney Community Transport. CATS used the money it made from its school transport contracts to subsidise and run a community transport service across Croydon, helping hundreds of vulnerable residents.
The community transport service provided cheap hire of accessible minibuses to community groups across Croydon. This allowed groups to run transport services to local lunch clubs and provide a network of shopping bus services for older people who do not have access to their own cars. It also provided accessible transport to residents with limited mobility such as Croydon Disability Forum and the Enterprise Swimming Club.
Suzy Stoyel, Manager of Shirley Neighbourhood Care said: “CATS provide an invaluable service to community groups across Croydon. By providing cheap and affordable accessible minibuses to groups like ours, who can help older people join in with community activities and outings.
The Council has awarded new contracts to a company in Hackney who have confirmed they will not be providing community transport services. This decision will lead to greater loneliness and isolation and more pressure on acute National Health Services.”
Mario Creatura, Parliamentary Candidate for Croydon Central commented: "There are many elderly residents up and down Croydon who rely on our accessible transport service to escape the confines of their homes, participate with local activities and have a social life. Many of the everyday experiences that we take for granted, like meeting up with friends, are out of reach for them. This bus service is quite simply a lifeline. Labour's cuts to this services puts that all at risk. The Council should carry out an immediate u-turn on this appaling decision."
Cllr Yvette Hopley (Shadow Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care) added: "This seems to be a classic example of the Council’s left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. I suspect that Cllr. Hall has overseen the procurement process. I have sympathy for Cllr. Avis, she is new to her role and probably did not realise the full impact this decision would have on the community sector and older people across Croydon.
I think Cllr. Hall needs to explain why this contract has been awarded to a company that operates outside of the Borough and how he can justify the social value and equality impact of this decision.”