North Somerset could have transport services other places ‘could only dream of’

PUBLISHED: 08:00 11 March 2018

Churchill and Langford Minibus Society.

Churchill and Langford Minibus Society.

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A transport service which is a lifeline to some of North Somerset’s most vulnerable people has called for more support from the local authority amid fears people will struggle to get to vital appointments.

Churchill and Langford Minibus Society (CLMS) has called on North Somerset Council to help co-ordinate community transport services to ensure they survive.

Community transport is a vital, volunteer-led service to many, particularly in aiding elderly people with their trips to doctor’s surgeries, shops and hospitals.

Alan Purcell, of CLMS, believes the district’s community transport groups, which are a ‘fantastic community asset’, need nurturing by the local authority in order to survive.

Mr Purcell added the Healthy Weston project – a review into how the town’s health services are delivered – could be undermined without adequate transport infrastructure.

He said: “The council has been removing subsidies and bus routes and the A2, run by First Bus, will be withdrawn in April.

“Villages like Wrington, Lower Langford and Churchill will no longer have a bus service.

“I’m involved with Healthy Weston and every scenario which has been discussed also ended up in discussion about could services be provided through a central hub if there isn’t infrastructure to support to allow patients to access it?

“The community minibuses are not awash with money or volunteers yet they are a fantastic community asset which if people worked together could provide services others in other parts of the country could only dream of.

“There needs to be a co-ordinator and I believe it is the role of the council. We have lots of voluntary organisations who could all benefit if they were encouraged to support each other and in some instances not compete against each other.”

A council spokesman said it supports transport groups with ‘co-ordination and funding’, and it is creating a fund which will help with ‘unexpected expenses’.

The spokesman added: “We organise a community transport forum twice a year.

“All community transport and volunteer car schemes in North Somerset are invited to attend and CLMS is an active member of the forum.

“We also promote services to the public, and we also encourage residents to volunteer.”

The spokesman added the council has ‘no intention of villages being left without a bus service’.

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