Big boost to shops from town charity

USERS of a Bognor Regis mobility charity boost town centre businesses by hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.

A survey by Bognor Regis and Worthing Shopmobility showed the average spend of one of the users of its transport fleet was £90 a time in Bognor.

The scooters, powered chairs and wheelchairs were hired 1,792 times last year to give a total spending power of £161,280.

The figure for Worthing was even higher with a £120 average spend by its 1,519 customers.

Marian Court, the charity’s manager, told its annual meeting the amounts – based on a survey last June and July – showed the value of the scheme to the towns.

“The figure is just the amount spent in shops. It does not take account of visits to places like banks,” she said.

“We want to bring as many people into the towns as we can. That way they can bring the revenue in as well.”

The charity faced a continual battle for recognition. She said: “I would like to move into an empty shop next year, even if for only a month or two, to advertise our presence.”

But the need to be careful with spending was an ever-present fact of life.

There was also the desire to keep the hiring charges as low as possible for the people who relied on the transport to get around.

“We are here to keep it affordable as possible and everybody happy and moving,” she said.

She thanked the some 20 volunteers in the Bognor office at the town hall and the ten or so at Worthing for their invaluable help in a range of roles.

Shopmobility chairman Mike Chart said the charity had done well in a tough year. “We have had a very pleasant year, especially in view of the economy,” he said.

“Finding grants was a bit difficult but, fortunately, we don’t fully depend on them.

“We are resourceful and we will continue much as we have done.”

Bognor was the busier scheme because visitors to Butlin’s frequently use its fleet of 37 scooters, six powered wheelchairs and 30 wheelchairs.

Ray Goldring, the treasurer, reported a £9,000 surplus in the year to the end of March after £59,000 of expenditure.

Trustee Kate Allen, who helped to found the charity in 1996, said: “It’s good to see how it has grown.”

The officers were unanimously re-elected at the meeting held last Thursday in the Regis Centre. This means Mr Chart has entered his third year as the chairman.