Anger mounts after community car cancellation

EARLIER: ELDERLY LEFT STRANDED

RESIDENTS are rallying to bring back the community car service they say is vital to the independence of the region's elderly.

The volunteer-run car service was cancelled by the City of Greater Bendigo early this year, due to limited funds.

Several residents used the car regularly for a fee of $6.50 to get to social events and go shopping. 

Marong Senior Citizens president Jeff Landry said six women were unable to attend the regular club events due to the cancellation. 

"Some of these women are inaugural members - they have been coming regularly since we started 20 years ago," he said. 

"A lot of them live on their own and they were stuck at home. 

"They liked coming down to the hall for cards and a chat but now they can't get a ride here."

Joy Boyd, whose mum regularly used the service, has started a Facebook group following mounting anger from the community over the decision. 

"Most councils provide a community car and the Bendigo community car was available to people unable to access public transport and could only be used for shopping and getting to and from social activity," she said. 

"The city council have cancelled the community car saying it is too expensive to run.

"This is is despite volunteers doing the driving and users of the car contributing to the petrol."

Ms Boyd said the council would rely on the family to provide transport, assuming everyone has family available.

"Council have also said they will provide support by providing someone who can take the person shopping," she said.

"How can a paid worker who will take the person shopping for one to two hours be more cost effective, not to mention there is a long waiting list to be included in this service."

Council community well-being director Pauline Gordon said council could no longer fund the program, but were making sure other options were available to residents. 

"This is not funded by the state government as part of its home and community care package and until recently has been inequitable and an additional cost to council," she said. 

"Alternatives include home care shopping with or for a client to the nearest supermarket for groceries."

Other options include half price taxis, the use of family and friends and utilising the planned activity group for social outings.

88-year old Maureen Frankum, who regularly uses the service, said these options could never fully replace the independence given by the car. 

"We can't just ask people to drive us around and to take this away means a lot to the mental health of the elderly here," she said. 

"When they are stranded and can't get out without other people's help, it's not good. And taxis are too expensive even with the discounted rate.

"This service the one thing that keeps me going. I hope council realise the importance of this car because there is nothing for us here without it." 

Go to the Save the Community Car page on Facebook to show your support. 

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