Follow East Devon's good example, you Scrooge' councils!

PUBLISHED: 10:25 07 March 2008 | UPDATED: 08:53 10 June 2010

A MAJOR national charity has urged Devon s Scrooge councils to follow the lead of East Devon - and to waive bus charges for all carers of the disabled.

A MAJOR national charity has urged Devon's 'Scrooge' councils to follow the lead of East Devon - and to waive bus charges for all carers of the disabled.

Equality South West (ESW) is a registered charity and England's first regional equality and diversity body - and they are calling on Devon's seven other council's to reverse their policy of charging disabled people's carers for bus travel.

They say, at a time when councillors are debating their budgets for the year ahead, research by the charity has revealed all councils in Somerset, Gloucestershire, Cornwall, Wiltshire and the Bristol area, along with most councils in Dorset, allow carers to travel for free.

But, in Devon, it is only East Devon District Council that waives the charge, and Paul Dunn, chief executive of Equality South West, said:

"If East Devon can do it, then why can't the rest of them?

"This penny-pinching might look good on the balance sheet but it won't look good in the homes of disabled people.

"Many of them, faced with having to find the money to pay for a carer to accompany them on the bus, will have no option but to stay at home.

"Councils are supposed to provide services for all members of society, not merely those who can afford it.

"I'm very pleased East Devon and all the other councils across the region have adopted this reasonable and fair policy.

"For the sake of minute savings, the Scrooge councils have chosen to take the other path and, as usual, it's the vulnerable who will pay the price."

A spokesman for East Devon District Council said: "We have adopted the pragmatic approach, considering the benefit that a severely disabled person would gain from having a companion travel free with them.

"The minimal additional cost of this, proportionate to the overall expense of the scheme, is substantially outweighed by the benefit.

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