Council wins again in court battle over transport closures

 

A council's decision to close its passenger transport unit and make alternative arrangements has been upheld in the Court of Appeal.

Salford City Council proposed replacing the service for disabled families with alternative transport in a bid to save £600,000 every year, claiming the level of support was ‘just not realistic’ given central government funding cuts.

Two families went to the High Court seeking a judicial review of the decision in October, yet judges ruled in favour of the local authority’s actions. Lord Justice Richards has now rejected their appeal against this decision.

Some 170 families have now made alternative arrangements for transport to day centres, with the council claiming attendance at the facilities has remained constant despite cutbacks.

Cllr Peter Connor, assistant mayor for adult services, said: ‘There are no winners in this judgement but once again the court has agreed that our consultation and work with families to agree suitable alternative transport was conducted properly. The judge found the council consultation was fair and our work to assess people's care needs and comply with our duties under equality legislation was correct.

‘I appreciate this will be a disappointment to the small number of families who want us to keep the Passenger Transport Unit service but with 43% of government funding being taken from us, unfortunately, this is just not realistic.

‘We now need to reach agreement on alternative transport for the small number of people for whom we are still providing buses by the end of this financial year.’

Mathieu Culverhouse, a specialist at Irwin Mitchell's Public Law which represented Michael Robson and Jennifer Barrett in their appeal, said: ‘We are very disappointed with the outcome of this appeal and the massive consequences this will have on so many vulnerable members of the community in Salford.

‘The decision has placed many families in a difficult situation as to how they will ensure that their loved ones will be able to access the vital day centre services they are entitled to.’

 
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