THE decision to strip £50,000 from a company that offers transport to disabled and elderly people, has been criticised.

Swindon Council will cut Dial A Ride’s subsidy from £331,000 this year to £281,000 in 2010/11.

The council claimed the savings were the result of an investigation by officers into how the service could be run more efficiently.

But Old Town resident Mary Ratcliffe, a member of Action Against Elder Abuse, said: “It’s a very cruel decision. They are hurting the most vulnerable people in society.

“There are lots of people who rely on that for their lives – they can’t cook, they can’t go shopping. It’s very valuable for them. If they are not running efficiently then the council should help them be efficient instead of taking away their funding.”

Jo Osorio, of Voluntary Action Swindon and former director of Age Concern Swindon, said: “Any reduction which is going to diminish opportunites for people who use Dial A Ride is a bad thing.

“There are plenty of people who are unable to use ordinary public transport, even with the new buses.

“Those people rely on Dial a Ride. The service needs to be retained and increased. It should not be suffering cuts.”

But Coun Peter Greenhalgh, lead member for transport, said: “The council has spent a lot of time working with them to look at how we can manage the service more efficiently.

“The aim is to make it as cost-effective as possible. I would be very surprised if they are not able to offer the same level of service next year as they are at the moment.”