A WOMAN who cannot walk following a stroke, another who is on crutches and a lady who has dementia — these are just some of the people who regularly hire mobility scooters from Bracknell’s Shopmobility.

Users of the Princess Square store may find themselves unable to do this soon, however, as charity managers fear the shop may have to close if it does not find another £30,000 in funding every year.

As the News reported last week, this is because Bracknell Forest Council (BFC) has gradually cut all of the almost £30,000 annual core grant Shopmobility used to receive.

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Should the store be forced to shut down, residents would be left without what they say is an “essential” and “lifesaving” provision.

Emma Jacob, who has been using the scooters since injuring her knee in an accident last November, said: “This is not just for the elderly, it’s also for people like me who have had an injury.

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“If I couldn’t get out I would get very depressed, I would have no motivation to do my exercises and my rehab.

“Knowing I can get a mobility scooter gives me a boost knowing I can get out of the house, do some shopping and be normal.

“Having had this injury, I can see how essential it is.”

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More than 100 members pay £30 a year to take out the scooters whenever they like, and fundraising events and shop sales raise up to £36,000 a year for the charity.

But without council money, this will not cover the store’s annual running costs of around £55,000.

Paul Graham, from Sandhurst, told the News he thought it was “disgusting what the council is doing with the money here.”

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Wendy, his wife, comes in with Paul most days a week to use the scooters after she suffered a bleed on the brain resulting in a stroke in June 2018.

This meant “six months of hell” for Wendy, who could not walk or use her right arm when she left hospital.

Another man, Mr Smith, has been bringing his wife — who has vascular dementia — to use the scooters for a number of years.

He said: “It’s been a lifesaving place for her.

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“It gives her something to look forward to.

“I don’t know what would happen if it closed.

“I can’t take her around because she’s got arthritis so she can’t walk much.

“If I go back and tell her this is closing down, that would depress her even more.”

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Shopmobility boss Bob Draper accused BFC of “deserting” the charity over the funding cuts, but a spokesperson for the authority was “committed to continuing to support Shopmobility’s trustees to enable the service to develop a sustainable future.”

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Bracknell Forest Council executive member for culture, delivery and public protection John Harrison said: “As a council, we recognise the importance of the voluntary and community sector in enhancing the quality of life for our residents, and we continue to support a number of organisations.

"However, like all other local authorities, we are faced with an increasing demand for services, which isn’t matched by additional funding.

"We reviewed our voluntary sector grants in 2016/17, and Shopmobility was made aware that their grant would be gradually reduced over a three-year period, to allow them time to become financially independent by 2020/21.

"We worked with Shopmobility, fully consulting with them on this change, and support was offered to develop their business plan to help generate income.

"We are committed to continuing to support Shopmobility’s trustees to enable the service to develop a sustainable future."

But the council’s cuts has left some of the shop’s supporters unconvinced.

One user, Lorraine, said: “It’s not right.

“We pay our council tax and what do we get from it? Nothing. All they do is take, take, take all the time.

“They don’t think about people with disabilities. It should stay open and we need to keep it going.”