Paddington Dial-A-Ride depot closure ‘will spell misery’ for Westminster passengers

Proposals to close a local depot for a transport service for the disabled will lead to longer journeys, missed appointments and a worse experience for all users in Westminster, critics claim.

Dial-A-Ride, which provides door-to-door transport for people with permanent or long-term disabilities who cannot use conventional public transport, is closing its Paddington depot for good on Friday.

No jobs will go, but the minibuses and drivers will be relocated to a new depot in north Wembley and serve five boroughs from there.

Critics say this can only be bad for the 1,020 Dial-A-Ride users in Westminster, who rely on its free service and took 11,415 trips in the first six months of this financial year.

Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of Westminster’s Labour opposition, said: “No-one has been consulted on this closure decision and no-one has been told of the implications for elderly and disabled users.

“Moving the service to north Wembley will only serve to stretch the service even further, with drivers having to travel much greater distances in the busy London traffic.

“Drivers will be sat in traffic jams for longer rather than driving elderly and disabled people to clubs, activities and social events.”

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Workers’ union Unite, which represents the staff at the service, also condemned the decision by Transport for London (TfL) to close the depot.

Unite regional officer Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “The decision to close down the Paddington depot is flawed.

“Without a review, disabled and elderly citizens in five London boroughs face getting a worse service from London Dial-a-Ride.

“Unite is calling for an immediate suspension of the closure until a proper review has been conducted. Rather than closing this depot, TfL should be properly resourcing it to ensure the elderly and disabled get a proper transport service.”

Unite claims the analysis that fed into the case for closure was deeply flawed, and that the depot had been deliberately under-resourced for a number of years.

But Paul Blackwell, general manager of the Dial-A-Ride service, said: “The decision to move work from Paddington to north Wembley and Bermondsey will save an estimated �400,000 a year.

“This money will be used to continue providing this vital service. The move will not result in a cut to either the number of drivers we employ or the number of vehicles in our fleet.

“Customers in central London boroughs can expect the high level of service they currently enjoy to continue.”