Community transport grants up for debate

Councillors will be asked to award over £330,000 to community transport initiatives in the North-east later this week.

The Aberdeenshire Community Transport Initiative (ACTI) was established in April 2008, following the transfer of responsibilities for such funding from the Scottish Government to local authorities.

Grants are awarded for up to 75% of project costs for the provision of community based rural passenger transport such as community buses, dial-a-trip services, and voluntary car schemes.

ACTI currently provides grant funding to seven local groups who were previously funded by the Scottish Government including Buchan Dial-a-Community Bus, Banffshire Partnership Limited.WRVS has a three-year grant up to March 2013, and after it was asked to reduce costs for 2012/13 it has reduced its funding request from £27,351 to £25,160. The six other groups are seeking funding of £332,169 for the financial year 2012/13.

Given the council’s current financial position, the funding will run for one year if approved by councillors, having previously been allocated for a three-year period. Aberdeenshire Council’s Policy and Resources Committee will be asked to approve the applications at a meeting this Thursday.

The overall amount is a reduction of around 10%, or £40,000, on previous annual funding packages, decided by Full Council at the start of last year. Community groups were advised in February 2011, to allow them time to plan how to manage the reduction ahead of its implementation. They were encouraged to seek alternative funding sources, make efficiency savings or increase charges if possible to try to avoid the need to reduce services.

Council officers worked with some of the groups to achieve the efficiency savings, resulting in lower applications for funding.

Only Buchan Dial-a-Community Bus anticipates the reduction will have a direct impact on services, specifically its Alternative Patient Transport Service. The group’s funding would drop by £7,759 to £120,027 per year.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of Transportation, Ewan Wallace, said: “Our officers are continuing to speak to Buchan Dial-a-Community Bus to help them identify alternative sources of funding. As the service is aimed at patient transport, we are also speaking to NHS Grampian about any assistance which it may be able to give.”

Due to the current financial position of the council, it is not considered appropriate to agree further funding beyond 2013. Any proposed grant awards for the financial year 2013/14 onwards will be the subject of a future committee report.

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Contact: Communications Officer Gordon Lyon

Email: gordon.lyon@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

Tel: (01224) 664514

Fax: (01224) 665204

Notes for Editors

Here is a summary of the projects funded under ACTI:

Buchan Dial-a-Community Bus Project

Buchan Dial-a-Community Bus is a charitable organisation based in Maud with an associated social enterprise known as DAB plus c.i.c. (community interest company). Any profit made by the social enterprise is gifted to the charitable side of the organisation. In total the organisation has 15 employees and over 60 volunteers.

The social enterprise has a transport Operator’s Licence and operates social work transport and school transport contracts on behalf of Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City Councils. It also has a Training Academy offering a range of driver training.

ACTI assists Buchan Dial-a-Community Bus Project to provide the following services.

Dial-a-bus shopping service

A wheelchair-accessible minibus provides escorted door-to-door transport for mainly elderly or disabled clients living within the Central Buchan area. The service operates on Mondays to Fridays to various shopping destinations in Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen.

Alternative Patient Transport Service

A minibus is used to provide ad-hoc patient transport and regular runs to dialysis, rehab, day care etc. Transport is also provided by volunteers using their own cars. Clients who require one-to-one support due to disability may use the Alternative Patient Transport Service and volunteer car service for shopping etc.

Evening transport services

A minibus service is provided, in partnership with the Community Education service, to take young people to youth services in Mintlaw Academy. Once per fortnight a service takes elderly and disabled residents to Mintlaw library.

Minibus hires to community groups

Minibuses are available for hire to local community groups.

Banffshire Partnership Limited

The group has 3 minibuses which are used to operate shopping services and hired out to community groups.

Dial a Bus Shopping Services

These escorted wheelchair-accessible minibus services operate Mondays to Fridays doing a total of 12 runs per week. Door-to-door transport is provided for mainly elderly or disabled clients living within the Banffshire area to various shopping destinations in Aberdeenshire. The minibuses can take a maximum of either 9 or 11 clients depending on the vehicle used and usually run at capacity.

Minibus hires to community groups

Minibuses are available for hire to local community groups.

Ballater Royal Deeside

Minibus for community hire

One vehicle is available for hire by community groups, including transport to local day care. The vehicle is also used for private hire using a section 22 permit to allow any profits made to be used to fund the minibus.

Mid Deeside Limited (Deeside Community Transport Group)

MDL has 3 minibuses, one used to operate local bus services, and two used for community hires.

Village Hopper Service

MDL provides local shopper services on Mondays to Fridays. These services, which are registered as local bus services and as such are open to the general public, are run under contract by bus operator Allan & Black.

Mearns Community Transport

MCT has a minibus available for hire by community groups.

The Silver Circle

Under its Hospital Volunteer Driver Scheme volunteers use their own cars to provide one-to-one transport to medical appointments to local GPs and Aberdeen hospitals. In addition, Silver Circle hires a minibus from Mid Deeside Ltd to provide a weekly shopper service for elderly and disabled clients living in Strathdon. Silver Circle also provides local groups with financial support towards minibus hire (using MDL’s minibus) for social and cultural purposes.

WRVS

The following services are supported by ACTI:

Volunteer Car Scheme

WRVS run a volunteer car scheme covering anywhere in Aberdeenshire where they have volunteers. They typically operate short trips (e.g. to local shops) but transport can be provided to further afield, e.g. Aberdeen. The service is primarily aimed at elderly housebound residents.

Shopping Service

WRVS hire a minibus from Aberdeenshire Council to run various door-to-door shopping services in the Garioch area and one in the Formartine area for sheltered housing residents and other infirm clients.

For details of the proposed grants to each group, comparisons to the previous year and information on how the reduction in funding will be accommodated and how it will affect services, please see here: http://bit.ly/ACTIfunding

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