Community Transport in Bristol faces major shake up
Community Transport in Bristol, which gives the elderly and the infirm a chance to get out of their homes in safety and comfort, is expected to undergo a major shake-up.
The city council wants to change the way in which the service is funded.
A number of voluntary groups and organisations provide minibuses to pick up pensioners and take them to doctor’s surgeries, hospital appointments, lunch clubs, or even to enjoy some shopping.
For many of them, it is a lifeline to get them out their homes and a change from looking at the same four walls.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
But instead of voluntary groups being given a grant each year to run their service, the council wants them to bid for funding in a competitive tendering process.
This has led to fears that the groups will have to cut their overheads to win funding which might mean cutting the level of service they can provide.
The council says the proposed changes are based on surveys with residents and discussions with the voluntary groups which provide the minbuses.
The council wants to get people’s views so Bristol Mayor George Ferguson can make a decision in the summer.
The current Community Transport budget is nearly £1 million (£957,000) and a further £188,000 is spent on rebates for the cost of journeys made by passengers who qualify for a concessionary fare card. This is based on a rebate of £1.80 for each single (one-way) journey.
In 2011/12, the council spent £24,000 on the St Philips’ taxi sharing scheme.
The budget is likely to reduce in the next financial year, but it is not as yet clear by how much.
This is because Labour councillors are fighting to stop any cuts from the Community Transport budget after discovering that it risks being slashed by £100,000.
The Labour group is urging Mr Ferguson to stop this cut at next Tuesday’s budget-setting meeting at City Hall, College Green.
The council says the quality of existing services is very high but the way in which the services have developed over time means the services offered and the number of people they each serve can vary.
Some areas of the city have a choice of Community Transport while others only have access to those operating on a citywide level.
The council proposes that, with less money and increasing demand, there is a need to focus on supporting more of the most vulnerable in the community.
Mr Ferguson said: “Community transport providers and their users have offered the council invaluable support during the survey and development phase of this work.
“We all share a common aim to provide excellent services for the most vulnerable in the community at a time when our government grants are diminishing.
“As well as living longer lives, more people are living with chronic health problems or disabilities and the increasing number of older people in Bristol (mainly over 75) now living alone, is already increasing the demand for community transport and wheelchair and mobility aid hire services.”
The consultation questionnaire can be completed online at www.bristol.gov.uk/ctoption
Paper copies of the questionnaire can be obtained from the council’s Passenger Transport Office on 903 6176 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Background details including the draft strategy can be found online at http://www.bristol.gov.uk/communitytransport or from the above address.
The consultation will run until May 15.