Work well advanced for Marlborough's Shopmobility scheme
Plans are well underway to establish a Shopmobility scheme for Marlborough. It will be based at The Mobility Store in space provided by the shop's owner Willie McIvor - one four such shops he owns.
Shopmobility is a service that helps people with mobility problems (whether through disability, illness or injury) to continue to get around town centres independently. It provides a pool of mobility scooters and both powered and manual wheelchairs which members of the scheme can hire for a token charge.
Members can register for an annual fee of about £15.00. Non-registered users will pay a slightly higher daily hire charge.
The Marlborough Scheme is a joint initiative by the Town Council, the Area Board and the town's branch of The Mobility Store.
Willie McIvor's Mobility Store is ideally situated at the northern edge of the George Lane car park. It is providing space for the equipment and a small office. The scheme will be run by volunteers.
An Area Board grant of £8,545 was agreed last month to provide a basic number of scooters and chairs and the set-up costs for the scheme. The grant will also pay for the curb to be dropped outside The Mobility Store's car park entrance and the transfer there of one disabled parking space. From April the Town Council will have a modest budget line to support its admin costs.
Marlborough Town Clerk, Shelley Parker, Community Engagement Officer, Andrew Jack, and Willie McIvor have visited Salisbury's scheme which is based in the Maltings car park.
This scheme has been run by Wiltshire Council, but this year will be taken over by Salisbury City Council. They have a fleet over 30 mobility scooters and one full-time staff member with four volunteers always on hand. "It is", says Mr McIvor, "a massive operation. They have ten parking spaces just for Shopmobility."
The visit to Salisbury showed how strongly the volunteers are involved in the scheme, as Mrs Parker explained to the Area Board: "They include retired people, sixth formers, those on work placements and on The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme. All those we met were enthusiastic about what they did and took pride in the service they provide for the community and visitors to the City."
Mr McIvor told Marlborough News Online that the scheme was first suggested to him by Wiltshire Councillor Jemima Milton. That was when the Marlborough branch of The Mobility Store was occupying part of the Kennet Pharmacy - between the Marlborough Medical Practice and George Lane: "There simply was not enough space there for it."
The scheme was revived when the Mobility Store moved to its present premises - and a plan was sent to the Town Council, but it stalled. It was revived after a visit to the store by Bob Holman looking for places to install Marlborough Area Development Trust's wi-fi base stations.
Mr McIvor agrees that the scheme will need advertising. He will mention it on all Mobility Store advertisements and it will appear on leaflets from the Wessex Group of Shopmobility Schemes. And coach companies will be told about it.
Mr McIvor is donating an electric power chair to the Marlborough scheme. He's right behind the scheme: "Absolutely - because it's a good idea. There will, of course, be spin-off from people seeing the mobility equipment in our shop."
The Town Council are delighted to establish the Scheme within The Mobility Store. It will mean there is expertise on hand and space for training in the use of the scooters.
The mobility scooters will have suspension on all four wheels: "Ideal for Marlborough's pavements." And they will adjusted to run at a maximum four miles an hour. The preferred route from the car park to the High Street will be via Figgins Lane - and volunteers will be able to make sure people cross the entrance to the car park safely.
The schemes initial 'fleet' will consist of three power scooters, two power wheelchairs and one manual wheelchair.
The Shopmobility Scheme will not only be for visitors to the town. It will provide a low cost way to hire mobility assistance for local people with short-term needs - such as those recovering from surgery.