Residents should benefit from an improved community transport scheme from next month, when a new provider takes over.
Northumberland County Council has supported the Getabout voluntary car scheme – a service that provides door-to-door transport for people with mobility problems or without access to public transport – for the last six years.
Following a tendering process, the local authority has now agreed to award the running of the scheme to Adapt North East, which will be working closely with existing customers and the provider for the last six years, Royal Voluntary Service, to make sure there is a smooth transition.
They will also operate in partnership with Community Action Northumberland, parish and town councils and other agencies.
Coun Allan Hepple, the county council’s cabinet member responsible for sustainable transport, said: “As a council, we invest £36,000 each year in the service and we wanted to ensure that we get the maximum benefit for as many people as possible across the county.
“Through the retendering process, we have committed this investment for the next three years – as well as offering a one-off payment of £40,000 to develop and improve access to more users and more communities.
“I would like to thank the existing provider the Royal Voluntary Service for their hard work and commitment to the scheme over the past six years.”
The service will still use volunteer drivers and sees users pay a small annual membership and then a set cost per journey mile, with a discount for those with a concessionary bus pass.
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Liz Prudhoe, director of Adapt North East, said: “We are really pleased to have this opportunity to run the council’s car scheme. We have been advocates for improving access in Northumberland since Adapt was first formed in 1991.
“Working in partnership with Community Action Northumberland, we believe we can make a real difference through the car scheme, but also by linking up with what is already going on in communities through parish and town councils, voluntary and community groups and linking to what is happening within health and social-care services.”