Bus forms are ‘elder abuse’

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A FLEET Hargate pensioner has accused the local authority of “elder abuse” after coming across a form she now needs to complete before getting her bus pass renewed.

Joan Woolard (74), of Eastgate, says she was horrified to see the forms when she went into the offices at South Holland District Council on other business.

She said: “To my horror I saw the form on the desk. I had no idea I had to fill one of these out.

“For the past ten years, since it started, I have received my bus pass automatically in the post from the district council.

“Now pensioners living out of town have to spend money to get to the council building in Spalding to pick up a form, get a passport photo, which is another expense – mine cost £5 – get copies of ID, another trek to somewhere that has a photocopier and more money, and then post all the information off to Lincolnshire County Council.

“I was totally unaware of this – I think it’s just a ploy by the council to discourage pensioners from getting them. It’s elder abuse.”

Mrs Woolard (pictured), who is a Fleet Hargate parish councillor and in February led a campaign to get a bigger bus shelter in Holbeach, said: “The bus passes are a boon for people living in the villages.

“I use mine every day instead of my car. Some pensioners would not be able to get out and about without them.

“There are more old people in the county. They have worked all their lives and paid their taxes. They deserve better.”

Lincolnshire County Council’s public transportation manager Anita Ruffle said: “Concessionary bus pass applications, renewals and replacements is something that the county council was required to take on from district councils in April last year.

“We publicised it widely in the media, our newspaper that goes to every home, and we left leaflets in public places like libraries and post offices. We did this again in December.

“It is something that will actually speed up the process for many people who will often get their new pass more quickly than under the old system. Although applications are dealt with by post, we are developing an online system too. People will also be pleased to know that we’re continuing funding to allow Lincolnshire pass holders free travel at any time within the county.

“Call us on 01522 782070 for a form to be posted to you.”