PLANS have been submitted to revamp a service that provides a “lifeline” for people with mobility issues, for the first time in 20 years.

Salisbury City Council has submitted plans to develop the Shopmobility unit in the Maltings, and service users have said it is a “fantastic” show of support with the city’s disabled community.

The council voted earlier this year to spend £35,000 refurbishing the unit.

Works include knocking out brick arches to create windows opening onto Priory Square and the walkway between the Maltings and city hall.

It will also create an open space to be used as a community area and more office space for council workers.

Pete Creed, 67, has used the service for 20 years, since it opened.

“It just gives you a new lease of life,” he said.

“When I first came, I used to drop my wife off in town, she’d do the shopping and I’d pick her up, because I couldn’t get around.

“It completely changed my life.”

Shopmobility has enabled Pete to work, and he now volunteers there, which he says has helped build his confidence and to help him meet new people.

“It’s not just about scooters and wheelchairs, it’s also about meeting the community. Sometimes you just need a chat and it’s a meeting place,” he added.

“Some people might just see their carer, but when you can come in here you meet other people and it gets you out in the community, and it breaks down a big barrier.”

Pete said the decision to revamp the service “really means a lot” to customers and volunteers at Shopmobility, adding: “If they [the city council] hadn’t gone ahead, it would just prove to me that councillors weren’t interested in the needs of the disabled - that we weren’t worth the money.”

And he thinks the new plans look “fantastic”.

“It’s a lifeline, it really means a lot to me,” Pete said. “It sounds dramatic, but life wouldn’t be worth living without it, because you’d be stuck. We are all human beings and we have all got the right to use the city.”

Fellow volunteer Tracy Gill, 54, also started out as a Shopmobility customer 18-years-ago, and wants to change perceptions about the service, which she says is “invaluable”.

“I have got a lot more disabled friends, I get out more and if I’m lonely I just come across and see my friends and have a coffee here,” Tracy said.

“I know a few of our customers are quite lonely. I used to be, but I’m not so much now.

“We have got people who are our regular contacts and if they don’t come in we will ring to make sure they are okay.”

Tracy said the “much-needed” development will be “a huge improvement, not just to the customers but to the staff” and will make the whole unit more inviting.

And Tracy wants to set up social groups at the unit, including a knit and natter and a craft group, that will be open to anyone.

Chairman of the council’s planning and transportation committee, Jeremy Nettle, said the decision to upgrade the service was “approved unanimously”.

“The decision was made not only in recognising how this valuable facility improves access for disabled people in Salisbury, but also those visitors both from the UK and overseas,” he said.

He said the decision is based on the latest information regarding the redevelopment of the Maltings, which suggests there will be no changes to Sainsbury’s or the ground-floor carpark in the first, short to medium-term phases of the changes.