A STORM of protest erupted this week as older people in Rushmoor learned that their travel concessions are to be cut unless they are over 75 or disabled.
During the last year people over 60 have been able to claim £31 worth of travel tokens that they could use on journeys by bus, rail or taxi. Now they are being restricted to a half price bus travel pass.
For the over-75s and the disabled the travel tokens are still available - £45 worth, although Rushmoor is levying a £5 administration fee for processing applications.
Stella Olivier, former Rushmoor councillor and trustee of Farnborough Age Concern, said people between 60 and 74 were having their choices of travel taken away. Many were not disabled but still found it difficult to walk to bus stops with heavy loads of shopping.
"We should have been consulted before they did something like this," she added.
Aldershot taxi driver Roger Watkins said local cabbies were horrified. It meant that some older people would no longer be able to get out.
"This is another subsidy to Stagecoach, who run hardly any buses after 6pm," he said. "They are now giving them half price bus tokens for a practically non-existent bus service."
Disabled campaigner Peter Sandy, who stood unsuccessfully in the recent Rushmoor elections, described the move as "an absolute disgrace" and said he would be lobbying councillors about it.
"One man has told me that now he can no longer park free he is being forced onto the buses. It is an absolute disgrace and is something that was never mentioned during the election campaign."
Rushmoor's Director of Resources Peter Gardner said it was not a cost cutting exercise but an attempt to increase mobility for the most vulnerable -the disabled and those over 75. The scheme was still above the statutory minimum.
"We have avoided the introduction of means testing and tried to keep it as simple as possible so that administration costs are low," he added. "The basis we worked on was to stay within the existing budget and help those who need most help."