Speaking during a parliamentary debate on Tuesday 5th March, South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine praised the Annandale Transport Initiative – a community transport project based in Lockerbie – as a “fantastic example of an organisation” benefiting pensioners in the area.
Speaking during the debate she said, “In an area where scheduled bus services are not always accessible and given that 32 per cent of single pensioner households do not have a car, the Annandale Transport Initiative provides a very valuable service.”
McAlpine also highlighted the fact that lack of transport is considered the key cause of isolation, a huge problem which disproportionately affects large numbers of older people.
She said, “Age Scotland reports that 18 per cent of older people do not speak to family and friends on a daily basis. Researchers rate loneliness as a higher risk to health than lifelong smoking.”
Drawing from a recent Age Scotland report entitled ‘Driving Change’; Ms McAlpine made the case for investing in community transport, by highlighting the huge benefits such a policy would have for the physical and mental well-being of Scotland’s elderly population, as well as the public purse. She said, “Some members have criticised aspects of the concessionary travel scheme. However, in a 2009 review of the scheme, 85 per cent of older people and disabled people agreed with the statement that the scheme enhanced access to shopping, health services, leisure facilities and family and friends.”
“Age Scotland argues that, rather than diminish the scheme, we should extend it to cover community transport initiatives such as Annandale transport initiative. Age Scotland calculates that extending concessionary travel to community transport would save £73 million a year on dealing with hip fractures, because people are more likely to experience fractures and falls on public transport than on specially adapted community transport buses.”
She added, “I understand that we are under extreme pressure in the public finances, given the cuts from London and that the proposed measure might not be possible in the short term. However, it fits the bill for the government’s preventative agenda.”
Published on aliveradio.net
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