End of road for lifeline bus?

CLUBS and centres for disabled people are worried for the future because the operators of a vital community transport service says it is being threatened by council cash cuts. Organisations such as The Notable Club, which provides day care for disabled pe

CLUBS and centres for disabled people are worried for the future because the operators of a vital community transport service says it is being threatened by council cash cuts.Organisations such as The Notable Club, which provides day care for disabled people, say they might have to close because Weston's community bus operators have been told they might not get the funding to keep going next year.The cash cut threat comes as a result of the £17million funding gap North Somerset Council is trying to fill as part of its budget for the next two years.Vick Ryland, who helps run Weston District Community Transport, says his group is set to merge with Weston Dial-a-Ride, following advice from a council officer last year on how to secure funding.Both organisations provide a minibus service for those people unable to use public transport, most of whom are disabled.Weston Dial-a-Ride has been kept going thanks to a National Lottery grant of £150,000, which was given over four years but is due to run out in March.Weston District Community Transport requires £42,500 every year to keep its non-profit operation going. The groups, which have 10 vehicles and are staffed mostly by volunteers, had hoped to expand to help people in outlying villages such as Churchill and Winscombe. Mr Ryland said: "Now we have been warned that not only will funding not increase because it is a bigger organisation, but it could well be reduced, if not cut altogether."The Notable Club, which provides days out for disabled people, and the Crossroads Carers Centre in Graham Road, which provides day care for disabled people to give their carers time to themselves, both use the community services.Notable Club secretary, Deena Parker, said: "Our club could not exist without community transport. A number of our members use wheelchairs and we would not be able to afford the numerous taxis to transport them. "Most of our members would not leave their homes if they didn't come to our group."Crossroads general manager Christine Holland said: "It would be a great loss if the transport service was cut."By transporting disabled people to our centre it gives them a chance to get involved in social activities, which they may not do at home."A spokesman for North Somerset Council said: "The amalgamated group will still be eligible for funding from our council, as long as it makes an application just like any other group would."* Pictured: Service users Barbara Sparks, Eileen Robinson, Nick Evans, Maureen Godwin and Peter Chamberlain with Crossroads staff members Lesley Carter and Anne Morley and driver John Carlin.


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