ELDERLY, infirm and disabled people in Wallingford are fighting plans to axe travel tokens.

The tokens for 3,100 residents in the South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) area will not be funded from April.

But the campaigners, who face higher transport costs as a result, are staging a public meeting in Wallingford to fight the cuts.

Pensioners in some parts of Oxfordshire use travel tokens instead of a free bus pass, and the option is often taken up in rural areas where there are few or no bus services.

Those aged over 70 in South Oxfordshire can apply for travel tokens, worth up to £20 a year, and so can the disabled at any age.

Last month, the district council put forward proposals to axe travel tokens for its residents to save £88,000 a year, as part of a package of £960,970 cuts.

It will hand over the responsibility for administering concessionary fares and travel tokens to the county council from April 1.

However, the county council does not intend to continue funding the scheme, and SODC is being urged to keep funding travel tokens out of its revenue reserves of £27m.

Jan Roberts, 70, who helps to run Wallingford Volunteer Centre at the Methodist church in St Leonard’s Square, said the 1,000 elderly, infirm and disabled people it provided transport for each year would be affected by the cut. She said: “Our drivers pick people up in Wallingford and the surrounding villages and they can use their travel tokens to cover the cost of the trip.

“If they can’t use their tokens it is going to cost them a lot more.”

Mary Broster, the centre’s assistant administrator, said: “We help people in Wallingford and villages like Crowmarsh, North Stoke and Warborough. We don’t go to Cholsey, Benson or Berinsfield because they run their own schemes.”

Margaret Davies, leader of the district council’s opposition Labour group, said: “Both local authorities are now washing their hands of travel tokens and claiming they are no longer responsible for them.

“They are playing pass the parcel with society’s most vulnerable and I would urge SODC to dip into its reserves to continue running the scheme.

“The cabinet meeting on Monday, February 14, will be the council leader’s last chance to save the area’s travel tokens.”

The Transport for All lobby group has organised the public meeting at Centre 70, in Goldsmiths Lane, on Wednesday next week at 11am.

Colin Walsh, a spokesman for Transport for All, who is registered blind and campaigns on behalf of disabled transport users, said: “Residents in the Wallingford area and across South Oxfordshire are going to be hard hit and the district council could quite easily pay for this out of its reserves.

“SODC is trying to get away with making this cut by claiming that travel tokens are now someone else’s responsibility.”

Gavin Walton, a spokesman for the South Oxfordshire council, said there were no plans to continue funding travel tokens by using the council’s reserves.

He said: “Under the current arrangement, using its discretion, SODC offers travel tokens as an alternative to the free bus pass.

“It is our understanding that the county council does not intend to offer such an alternative once the scheme is transferred.

“The decision to transfer travel administration, including travel tokens to the county council, was taken in March last year by the Government.”

Owen Morton, a spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council, said: “While the county council will continue to offer free travel on dial-a-ride and other similar community transport schemes, it will not continue subsidising other non- statutory options such as travel tokens and discount rail cards.”

Vale of White Horse District Council does not offer travel tokens.