Court challenge over move to cut concessionary travel in South Yorkshire

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A legal challenge has been launched against cuts in concessionary travel for disabled and elderly people in South Yorkshire.

As a result of the cuts, concessions have been pared back to the national mandatory system which covers bus travel only between 9.30am and 11pm instead of the former local arrangements which included free travel earlier in the morning and later at night.

Free travel on trains for the elderly and disabled has been removed entirely.

Two clients of Sheffield Citizens Advice and Law Centre, Michelle Turner who uses a wheelchair and Alan Lindley who is partially sighted, have now started judicial review proceedings. The action is being taken against Sheffield City Region Combined Authority which recently took over the functions of South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority which initially made the decision to cut concessions in February.

Douglas Johnson, equality rights worker at Sheffield Citizens Advice and Law Centre, said: “Our view is that the councillors’ decision to cut concessionary travel was unlawful because they failed to comply with the Equality Act 2010. They have a legal duty to have “due regard” to the need to eliminate discrimination and harassment and to advance equality of opportunity.

“It is not enough to have general feelings of sympathy with disabled people. Unfortunately, we do not believe they were given the correct advice by their officers.”

Ms Turner, who volunteers at Shopmobility Sheffield, said: “I am concerned not only for myself but about the effect this will have on other volunteers that give their time to Shopmobility and other charities locally.”

South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, which runs transport services on behalf of the combined authority, said: “These are very challenging times financially for all public services in South Yorkshire, given the scale of the Government cuts, and inevitably members (of the combined authority) had to make very difficult decisions about cutting services.

“We will, of course, be considering our response to the application to the court over the next couple of weeks, mindful that it will ultimately be local taxpayers’ money that would be spent on defending any action.”