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Shopmobility set to reopen

ACCRINGTON'S Shopmobility service will re-open on Tuesday under new management.

ACCRINGTON'S Shopmobility service will re-open on Tuesday under new management.

The Whalley Road store closed in controversial circumstances last month after chairman Richard Day had admitted indecently assaulting two disabled women volunteers, for which he received a police caution.

Mr Day, 59, of Lowergate Road, Huncoat, initially tried to battle on as chairman of the charity but he resigned after the Charity Commission launched an investigation and Greg Pope MP and the Observer called on him to quit. The committee decided to close the shop for the "foreseeable future''. But now the Hyndburn and Ribble Valley Council for Voluntary Service has stepped in to help it re-open.

Eric Yates, a former trustee who has been appointed the new Shopmobility co-ordinator, said: "The CVS has promised to help us as much as possible and we are looking forward to getting the service back on the road. We will be asking for the support of traders and the town in general.''

Ann Bell, Shopmobility secretary, said: "There's no doubt our customers have suffered because of the closure. I wouldn't like to have been in their position."

Hyndburn Council leader Peter Britcliffe believes the re-opening will contribute to the town centre's revival. He said: "I am delighted that Shopmobility is re-opening, especially in the same week as the new Wilkinson's store opens. It's very important to have this facility for disabled shoppers in our regenerated town centre."

Mr Yates, who had been Mr Day's right-hand man for 18 months, added: "It was with regret that we finally accepted his resignation. The Charity Commission said we shouldn't have refused it the first time it was offered. But we finally did for the sake of his health."

A Charity Commission spokesman said: "Two members of our staff have visited the charity and discussed the current concerns. We have been advised that Mr Day is no longer a trustee of the charity but we will be monitoring the situation before deciding whether any further input is necessary. In all cases where there are vulnerable beneficiaries, robust checks must be in place."

The registered charity, run by volunteers, hires out electric scooters, power chairs and wheelchairs to disabled people so they can do their shopping in the town centre in exchange for a small donation.

A CVS spokeswoman said: "The re-opening is down to the Shopmobility committee but we are supporting them."


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
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Photographer and columnist