middlesbrough-moving-forwardA POPULAR mobility service is set to return with a new base in Middlesbrough town centre.

Shopmobility closed at its Hillstreet Centre site in March due to funding challenges.

However Middlesbrough Environment City has stepped in to run some of the charity’s key services including wheelchair and scooter hire.

The new service will be officially launched in the Cycle Centre at Middlesbrough Bus Station on Friday, April 1.

Shopmobility was opened in 2001 and has helped more than 6,500 people, and facilitated more than 55,000 equipment hires.

However lottery, grant and other external funding needed to meet the charity’s annual running costs of around £150,000 were no longer available.

MEC will now be running daily hire of mobility scooters and wheelchairs, to enable those in need to continue to access the town centre.

Annual memberships will cost £10, with hires charged at £1 an hour for members and £1.50 for non-members.

Shopmobility currently has eight electric scooters and eight wheelchairs, and will operate from 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 3.30pm on Saturdays.

Middlesbrough Environment City Chair Julia Rostron said: “Over the last 14 years Shopmobility has provided equipment and a service that has made a real difference to the lives of a great many people, but in the current economic climate it was simply no longer viable.

“I’m delighted that Middlesbrough Environment City has been able to pick up some of the services, and that we can continue to make available a range of equipment that we know town centre users really value.”