Potentially thousands of disabled people across Wandsworth have been left without travel after their Freedom Passes were suddenly cancelled.

Freedom Passes are due for renewal later this year but those who have not yet sent off their letters had their passes cancelled this month, without warning.

The Wandsworth Guardian understands disabled people have gone to travel as they normally do, with in-date passes, only to be told they have been cancelled.

Disabled residents have reported chaos trying to get through to the council’s concessionary travel team because of the number of people ringing in.

The scheme provides free travel to London residents with a disability, is funded by local councils and coordinated by London councils.

A source told us the council’s call centre has been taking about 1,000 calls a day since last Friday. They said the phone has been ringing "off the hook".

They said it was the most vulnerable people in the borough who had been affected, the disabled and those with mental health problems.

They alleged the council deactivated 3,200 passes out of about 5,000 in the borough.

While most councils started their renewal process in May, the source said Wandsworth did not send their letters out until August.

Queenstown councillor Sally-Ann Ephson said the problems had been going on since Friday, January 9. She said: “The Freedom Pass doesn’t finish until March 2015.

“People think it is like a bank card – why is it finishing now if it is supposed to finish in March?

“They can’t go to their hospital appointments, they can’t do anything. People are confused.”

Wandsworth Times:

The town hall has issued an apology 

Wandsworth Council apologised to all those affected and said: “This is obviously deeply regrettable and we would like to apologise sincerely to all those who have been inconvenienced.

“The council has been attempting to verify who is still eligible to use these passes as they were first issued five years ago and will expire shortly. By law we must check these passes every five years to makes sure the holders still reside in the borough and still need them.

“Many people responded to our letters asking them to confirm these details but others did not and as a result their passes were switched off.

"However it is clear that some of these people are still eligible and we are now arranging for them to receive new passes. We are obviously  sorry for any inconvenience they have suffered and will be reimbursing them for any fares they have had to pay.” 

A Freedom of Information request revealed there were 459 physically disabled people, aged 18-64, known to Adult Social Services in Wandsworth in 2012/13.

In the same period there were also 2,256 physically frail and disabled people, aged 65+, known to Adult Social Services.

Freedom Passes are available to people who have sight problems, no speech, mobility problems, lost a limb or has a learning disability.

Passes are issued after an assessment of eligibility using information supplied on an application form.

If you are experiencing Freedom Pass problems, or have been left out of pocket call the council on 020 8871 8871.

Have you been affected by the Freedom Pass problems? Email ssleigh@london.newsquest.co.uk

More to follow.