Midlothian club to close after losing free buses

Members of The Phoenix Club at Newbattle Community Learning Centre in Newtongrange.
Members of The Phoenix Club at Newbattle Community Learning Centre in Newtongrange.

A group for disabled people and those with learning difficulties is to close next month after the council withdrew free transport.

The Phoenix Club, based at Newbattle Community Learning Centre, began in 1967 and has been a lifeline for local people for 48 years. For 46 of those years the club has transported members to the club thanks to free mini-buses supplied by the local authority.

The club’s secretary and treasurer Margaret Brown is sad that the club run by volunteers will finish on March 26.

She said: “Back in September I was told there would be changes with the buses and someone would be in touch but nobody told us. So we thought it was just rumours.

“When we finished up on December 18 for Christmas, I asked the drivers and they didn’t know. Then when they started back on January 18 I found out that the buses had been stopped at the end of 
December. So there was a panic as we couldn’t pick up members that night.

“I’m angry that they didn’t let us know what was going on. Even an apology would be nice, but we have heard nothing.”

A spokesman for Midlothian Council said it would help the club with travel until it is wound up in March, adding: “The changes in transport to and from the Phoenix Club were not down to budget cuts, rather they were due to driver availability.”

Read more in this week’s Advertiser, out now.