11:48am Thursday 6th March 2014
A THRIVING group which gives adults with learning difficulties a weekly night out and their carers respite is desperate to find out whether Ring and Ride cuts will spell their demise.
Centro safeguarded Ring and Ride between 8am and 8pm but the 30 strong Kingfisher group use the service at 10pm when they visit the Bull Terrier pub every Tuesday night.
The changes come into effect on April 1 and the group's founder Les Partridge still does not know whether the group will continue.
He said: "90 per cent of our members are dependent on the Ring and Ride service to attend the social club on their own without the need of their carers.
"The Ring and Ride drivers are fantastic and our members need the security of the service especially at night."
He added: "And the door to door service gives the carers the peace of mind and satisfaction that they know their loved ones will get home safely."
"When the public consultation went out we had a massive response in our favour but we need to know what is happening. It will be awful if we have to stop our Tuesday nights out."
The local authorities, including Sandwell and Dudley, which fund Centro cut its annual budget by £7 million and a public consultation floated the plan of radically cutting back on the Ring and Ride service.
However, the approved budget for 2014/15 will see the service receive an annual grant of £8.5 million so that it can provide a door-to-door transport service between 8am and 8pm Monday to Saturday.
Des Rodgers, operations manager at West Midlands Special Needs Transport which runs Ring and Ride, does not know whether the Kingfisher group will have its 10pm service.
He said: "We are still in negotiations at the moment and need to know ourselves because we will need to let people know what is happening on April 1.
"We have had our budget cut and can no longer afford a Sunday service but I really do hope the Kingfisher group will be unaffected."
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