Council invests in community transport

Residents in Northumberland are set to benefit from a new and improved community transport scheme from next month.

Tuesday, 8th March 2016, 2:54 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th March 2016, 2:58 pm
Adapt transport is used for the Berwick hoppa bus

Northumberland County Council has supported the Getabout voluntary car scheme for the last six years – a service that provides door-to-door transport for people with mobility problems or without access to public transport.

To ensure the best possible service for the future, and responding to calls to help more people and expand the service more widely across Northumberland, the council invited tenders from all organisations interested in running it.

After an open and transparent tendering process the council has agreed to award the running of the scheme to a new provider – Adapt North East.

Adapt will be working closely with existing customers to make sure there is a smooth transition to the new service.

They will also operate in partnership with Community Action Northumberland, parish and town councils and other agencies which operate in Northumberland to develop the service and ensure that access is improved for those residents who face the biggest barriers.

Councillor Allan Hepple, cabinet member responsible for sustainable transport at Northumberland County Council, said: “This new service from 1st April aims to expand and build on the existing Getabout Northumberland scheme.

“As a council we invest £36,000 each year in the service, and we wanted to ensure that we get the maximum benefit for as many people as possible across the county. There have been a lot of changes over the last six years, including to the public bus network, and it was important to ensure that we have a service that meets current day needs.

“Through the retendering process we have committed this investment for the next three years – as well as offering a one-off payment of £40,000 to develop and improve access to more users and more communities.

“I would like to thank the existing provider the Royal Voluntary Service for their hard work and commitment to the scheme over the past six years.”

Liz Prudhoe, Director of Adapt (North East), said: “We are really pleased to have this opportunity to run the Council’s car scheme. We have been advocates for improving access in Northumberland since Adapt was first formed in 1991.

“Working in partnership with Community Action Northumberland we believe we can make a real difference through the car scheme, but also by linking up with what is already going on in communities through parish and town councils, voluntary and community groups and linking to what is happening within health and social care services.”

The new provider will be making improvements to the scheme, but it will still use volunteer drivers to provide transport to people who are unable to use their own private transport or public transport.

Volunteers will use their own vehicles and be fully trained, police checked and insured.

Service users pay a small annual membership and then a set cost per journey mile, with a discount for those with a concessionary bus pass.

Adapt will be working with existing provider the Royal Voluntary Service with the aim of ensuring as smooth a transition to the new service and as little disruption to users as possible.

If you are interested in finding out more about the scheme please contact Adapt on 01434 600599.