Merry Hill to charge for mobility scooters

Shoppers hiring mobility scooters and pushchairs at the Merry Hill shopping centre are to be charged for the first time, it was revealed today.

Scooter from Mobility Matters

Shoppers hiring mobility scooters and pushchairs at the Merry Hill shopping centre are to be charged for the first time, it was revealed today.

Retail giant Westfield, which owns the Black Country centre, says the charges are "essential" to keep the service going.

An annual registration fee of £10 is being introduced for the service from April 1 as well as daily charges introduced for different wheelchairs, scooters and pushchairs. Parents will be charged £2 per day for the hire of pushchairs.

There will also be the same charge for the hire of mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs each time.

Manual wheelchairs can be hired for £1 for registered users while non-registered users will be charged £3.

Dudley Council's disability champion Councillor Colin Banks today said: "I would have thought with the money they are making it wasn't needed.

"It is just another charge for people during these tough times.

"I don't know whether they have thought about this commercially because if people do not want to pay and don't go, it isn't just them.

"It might be the whole family."

Westfield Merry Hill spokeswoman Kelly Reed said: "Merry Hill will start charging for use of Shopmobility equipment from Monday, April 4.

"These charges are essential for the on-going provision of the service, the maintenance of the Merry Hill Shopmobility fleet and in order to improve the service we offer in the future.

"We have striven to keep the Shopmobility charges as low as possible to minimise the impact on our shoppers."

Mobility scooter user Trevor Stuart, of Shenstone Close, Bromsgrove, said: "It just seemed a big jump from free to these charges which are quite high if you only go there once or twice a year. Perhaps they do not want the disabled who only go infrequently."

Other shopping centres such as Birmingham's Bullring and Touchwood in Solihull also charge fees for the hire of mobility equipment.