Shop in Sudbury on a free mobility scooter
DISABLED shoppers in Sudbury will soon be able to zip around the town centre on free mobility scooters.
Sudbury Town Council has joined forces with the police and mobility equipment specialists TGA to trial the innovative scheme.
A fleet of scooters provided by TGA will be available for disabled people to borrow while they do their shopping on market days.
Two trial days have been set for the first two Thursdays in March. If they are a success, the scheme, which was the brainchild of PCSO Simon "Mick" Baxter, will run every Thursday and Saturday.
The scheme has coincided with a police crackdown on disabled drivers parking on the north side of Market Hill.
Town clerk Sue Brotherwood said: "Disabled drivers have historically been allowed to park there on market days. But the police looked at the rules and Suffolk County Council confirmed that they are not exempt from the 6am to 6pm restrictions.
"Market traders have also been told they will get parking tickets the same as everyone else if they park on the hill."
She added: "We hope it will make the area less cluttered and more pleasant for shoppers."
PCSO Baxter came up with the idea to have mobility equipment available in the town centre after witnessing people struggling to unload wheelchairs and scooters from their cars.
TGA has agreed to bring a range of equipment from its Woodhall Business Park showroom, including mobility scooters, motorised wheelchairs and walking frames, all free of charge. The company has also said it will cover the costs of repairs and maintenance.
Sales manager Neil Patterson said: "We are totally supportive of this idea. We are always working to support the disabled community and this should introduce an element of safety for them and other shoppers in the town."
Because the market has been temporarily displaced to accommodate building works at the library, the council will be able to cordon off an area for people to safely try out the mobility equipment during the trial days.
Mrs Brotherwood said: "We want people to come forward who would like to have a go and also people who would be able to help run it."
She added: "We haven't finalised the finer details. That is the point of trial days, to see what will and won't work.
"We will have to work out a registration scheme, to check that people are disabled and to protect TGA's property.
"It is envisaged that disabled drivers will be able to park in Gaol Lane, but we will monitor the situation."
Scooters will be available to try out between 9am and 4pm on Thursday, March 5 and 12, unless the weather is very bad.
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Monday 20 May 2013
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