A PARTIALLY sighted man is to get £100 in compensation after East Dorset District Council withdrew his free all-day bus travel.

A report published by the local government ombudsman today states East Dorset failed to consider its duties under the Disability Discrimination Act and there was maladministration causing injustice.

East Dorset District Council had replaced its existing concessionary travel schemes for disabled people in April 2008 with the minimum requirements of a new national scheme, giving free travel for the disabled or over-60s only after 9.30am.

Wimborne resident Michael Hall, then aged 54, had been using his pass to attend hospital appointments before 9.30am and the change meant he had to pay to travel out of his Disability Living Allowance.

Mr Hall only learned that the discretionary travel scheme had been withdrawn through a newspaper article about council spending cuts.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People complained on Mr Hall’s behalf.

Ombudsman Jerry White felt that individual circumstances should have been taken into account by all seven councils who were investigated after passengers were wrongly charged.

Mr White said: “There must be a mechanism that enables the council to consider why, in special circumstances, the policy should be varied to meet the needs of individuals affected by it.

“None of the councils here had such a mechanism.”

He said there was also maladministration because the councils failed to consult service users about the proposed changes, give adequate notice of the changes or comply with their own disability equality schemes.

He said as a result, Mr Hall and others were left with a justified sense of outrage and may have been put to unnecessary expense and inconvenience.

David McIntosh, chief executive of East Dorset District Council, said: “The council accepts the findings of the ombudsman and has paid the agreed compensation of £100.

“We have now amended our policy to better reflect the needs of disabled people across the district,” he added.

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