The future use of the old fire station in Alnwick was discussed at the latest meeting of Alnwick Town Council.
The charity North East Equality and Diversity Ltd (NEED) is buying the building on South Road.
Some of it will be used by NEED and some will accommodate eight small business start-up units. There will also be a meeting room on site with white board and wi-fi which people can make use of.
NEED’s finance director Charlotte Wilson updated councillors on the charity’s activities.
She reminded them that the charity had started in 2002, becoming NEED in 2010 with the aim of offering accessible cost-effective transport.
At present, it has 27 minibuses around Northumberland, including Alnwick, which operate a number of contracts, including a home-to-school contract for Northumberland County Council, a dialysis and patient transport for North East Ambulance Service and secure transport for the NHS.
It also operates three dial-a-ride schemes, two in Alnwick and one in Morpeth, and offers a ‘need a car scheme’ where pool cars are used to take people to medical appointments and social events.
The scheme has proved very popular with 650 people using it in 2018 and 72 last month.
Charlotte told councillors about the training that NEED offers – minibus drivers (MiDAS) courses; emergency first aid; drivers certificate in professional competence (CPC); managing violence and aggression and basic risk assessment. NEED is also working in a consortium with CP Training from Carlisle to offer the additional training in Alnwick that all minibus drivers now need.