Community Transport provides a solution for people who are unable or who struggle to access mainstream transport. It is designed to meet local needs and is used for a social purpose or community benefit. This report reviews the current provision in the Arun district and proposes the steps required to facilitate the development of community transport in Arun.
Upon the invitation of the Chair, the Group Head of Community Wellbeing introduced Matt Roberts, Chief Executive Officer of Community Transport Sussex and the Development Coordinator Jacqui Cooke. He then introduced his report and explained that Community Transport Sussex was an infrastructure support organisation and also an operator of Community Transport. Historically Arun had supported two community transport organisations, Sammy Community Transport and Arun Coordinated Community Transport. Following the merger and subsequent failure of the merged organisation, Arun Community Transport had emerged to fill the void and was steadily building its customer base, supported by a grant from Arun. There were also several smaller transport organisations across the District. Arun District Council had not historically had an overall strategy for community transport and Community Transport Sussex had been asked to draft a plan.
The Development Coordinator for Community Transport Sussex then provided a short presentation on a proposed Community Transport Plan for Arun. She explained how important Community Transport was, particularly for the more vulnerable residents, and that it provided a solution for those that struggle to use mainstream transport to get out and about. They helped people to access services, attend appointments and help them to keep socially connected and independent. Arun’s Community Transport Plan had been developed to create an integrated and effective community transport provision across Arun. She drew Members’ attention to section four of the plan which outlined the number of transport providers across the District. There was a really good range of providers in Arun, and it was important that each of those were supported in order to help them deliver the best possible service to vulnerable residents. Community Transport Sussex provided a key role as an infrastructure support provider. Once the Plan had been considered and hopefully approved by Committee, the next step would be to develop an Action Plan that would be brought back to the Committee in the new year. She also praised Arun for developing a Community Transport Plan, as no other district or borough in Sussex had so far done this.
The Chair thanked the representatives from Community Transport Sussex for their presentation and asked for a further explanation around the funding. The Group Head of Community Wellbeing explained that the intention was to provide a grant of £7500 to Community Transport Sussex to carry out all the infrastructure work. There would also continue to be a small grant given to Arun Community Transport. The Chief Executive Officer of Community Transport Sussex explained that the passengers paid a small fare to travel, which was roughly a third of a taxi fare. The fee paid by the passenger did not cover the cost to provide the transport. Community Transport Sussex received some funding from West Sussex County Council (WSCC), which helped to fund their development team. The funding from Arun District Council would enable Community Transport Sussex to provide more transport themselves, and also to work with local groups to gather data to provide evidence of services required.
Members then took part in a question-and-answer session and the following points were made:
· Members thanked Community Transport Sussex for the presentation, and there was support for the project.
· Would data be provided on the number of people in the various need groups being helped under the Plan? The Chief Executive Officer of Community Transport Sussex confirmed that data for this could be provided.
· It was asked whether passengers had to be referred to use the service, or whether they could access these themselves. The Chief Executive Officer of Community Transport Sussex explained that residents could become a member themselves, the requirement being a difficulty in accessing public transport, which could be due to mobility needs or due to the remote location which they may live.
· Could care homes use the service? The Chief Executive Officer of Community Transport Sussex explained individuals living in Care Homes could book the services, or care homes could become group members. They also worked with a number of care homes to provide excursions.
· Did they operate on Sundays? The Chief Executive Officer of Community Transport Sussex explained they did not routinely operate on Sundays, however if requests for group outings were made in advance, they would try to provide a service for this. They were working with the NHS to ensure services could be provided when weekend clinics were being run.
· The Thakeham case study was highlighted, and it was hoped that a similar trial could be run in Arun.
The recommendations were Proposed by Councillor Cooper and Seconded by Councillor Thurston.
1) the Community Transport Plan for Arun be approved.
2) an increase to the budget for Community Transport from £6,930 to £11,500 to support an improvement in Community Transport across Arun District be approved.