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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 21/05/2002
Waverley Community Transport Initiative - Progress Report



This report advises members of progress being made in respect of:-

1. the creation of an independent Community Transport body for Waverley;

2. applications to outside bodies for funding;

3. the role of the Rural Transport Partnership Officer;

4. an action plan for the development of Community Transport in Waverley.

There are potential resource, environmental and “Opportunities for All” implications.

Prior to the meeting Members will have the opportunity, to see two of the vehicles recently supplied to ‘Waverley Community Transport’.
APPENDIX I

WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

COMMUNITY OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – 21ST MAY 2002


Title:

WAVERLEY COMMUNITY TRANSPORT
INITIATIVE - PROGRESS REPORT

[Wards Affected: All]


Summary and Purpose

This report advises members of progress being made in respect of:-

1. the creation of an independent Community Transport body for Waverley;

2. applications to outside bodies for funding;

3. the role of the Rural Transport Partnership Officer;

4. an action plan for the development of Community Transport in Waverley.

There are potential resource, environmental and “Opportunities for All” implications.

Prior to the meeting Members will have the opportunity, to see two of the vehicles recently supplied to ‘Waverley Community Transport’.

___________________________________________________________________

Introduction/Background

1. At an earlier meeting, the Committee asked to receive an updated report on the issues surrounding the development of Community Transport in the Borough of Waverley and progress made so far.

2. The need for good quality, accessible and affordable transport - particularly services such as Dial-A-Ride - was highlighted through Waverley consultation exercises, and was a key theme from the Better Government for Older People project. Transport difficulties facing young people, those in rural areas and those with a physical disability have all been identified as issues in the Borough. This is especially important in rural areas where the lack of transport is a major contributing factor to social isolation.

3. Waverley was the last remaining local authority area in the County that did not have a Community Transport infrastructure across the Borough. However, because of its size and location, it would be right to recognise that the provision of a comprehensive Community Transport service will take time to develop and, indeed, fund.

4. In July 1998, Waverley Borough Council and Surrey County Council commissioned a report on the issue of Community Transport in the Waverley area. Under the aegis of the joint Waverley-Surrey Partnership Committee, a Community Transport Task Group was set up involving Members of both Councils to take the issues forward. The main recommendation emanating from an independent specialist report, the TAS Report - was the need to establish a Waverley-wide Community Transport organisation, which would have a broad remit and which would work with existing voluntary sector transport providers.

5. The Council has adopted an enabling role in relation to the development of Community Transport across the Borough. The main thrust of your officers' efforts has been the development of an Action Plan for the Countryside Agency, securing funding from outside agencies, supporting the Waverley Community Transport organisation and continuing support to local community transport organisations such as Farnham Voluntary Transport Association and Waverley Wheels.

Waverley Community Transport Organisation-Progress

6. The Waverley Community Transport organisation was established in June 2000 as a Company Limited by Guarantee and, although it has charitable objectives, it has not yet sought charitable status. Waverley Borough Council and Surrey County Council each has one elected member nominated to attend Board meetings. On 26th September 2001, WCT held its first AGM. From its formation, a key activity has been securing both capital and revenue funding to establish its service.

7. In January 2002, WCT appointed a manager, Mr Peter Crawford and a deputy, Mrs Sarah Craig. In April 2002, two operations staff and four drivers were also appointed. The Manager and Deputy have spent time meeting a range of voluntary and statutory organisations throughout the borough with an interest in community transport. They include: Cranleigh, Milford and Villages, Farncombe, Haslemere and Brightwells Day Centres
Witley Parish Council
Godalming Area Car Schemes (Godalming and Elstead Care, Compton Community Bus and DisCASS)
Farnham Voluntary Transport Association
Waverley Wheels Cranleigh
East Lake Day Centre
West Sussex County Council (re the ‘Doris’ service)
Chiddingfold Lunch Club
Greylees Sheltered Housing scheme, and others. 8. Discussions have taken place with each of the day centres to ascertain how WCT can help with the transport of clients to and from the day centres. An article was placed in the Spring issue of the Link Magazine and a second feature will appear in the Summer issue, both outlining, for the general public, the nature of the service, how to access it, costs etc. A website is also being developed.

9. WCT have take delivery of four Optare Aleros, state of the art, low floor, fully accessible vehicles, and two Renault Espace, adapted to carry a person in a wheelchair and up to five other passengers. In addition, WCT is due to receive a minibus from ‘Doris’, the Joint West Sussex/Surrey County Council transport initiative, before the end of July 2002.

10. The range of services available from WCT will include:
11. The first passenger services were undertaken in mid April 2002. It is expected that the organisation should be moving towards full capacity before the end of this year.

The Rural Transport Partnership Officer

12. The Countryside Agency, acting as agent for the former Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR), invited bids for “Rural Transport Partnership” funding in 2000. The Council made a bid for this funding in order to finance a “Rural Transport Partnership Officer”. 13. The Rural Transport Partnership Officer produced an Action Plan for the Countryside Agency, clearly identifying the component projects, under the Waverley Community Transport umbrella, which need to be implemented in order to address the gaps in community transport provision. The projects which have been identified as part of the ‘Action Plan’ are:

a. The development of Demand Responsive Transport services, using state of the art scheduling and booking computer software. These services would be open to all sections of the community and would provide flexibly routed bus services tailored to meet the needs of individual users. Journeys would be booked by telephone to provide the “on demand” element of the service. 14. On 17th September 2001, the Countryside Agency confirmed the approval of the West Surrey Rural Transport Action Plan. In their letter they stated that the Action Plan set out a clear vision for the partnership, and provided a clear and realistic timetable of project solutions that should co-ordinate and expand rural transport services, initially throughout Waverley and eventually the rural areas of Guildford.

15. The Rural Transport Partnership Officer will continue to work closely with WCT and ensure that the projects highlighted in the Action Plan are developed and that the funding for these projects is secured from the relevant partner organisations. In addition to this, the RTPO will:

Rural Bus Challenge –DTLR

16. In 2000, your officers worked with Surrey County Council to submit a bid, entitled “Waverley Transport Solutions” to the Rural Bus Challenge. This is a competition held annually by the (then) Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions for Local Authorities with a Highways responsibility. Bids had to be for innovative transport schemes and funding can be for both capital and revenue expenditure.

17. The DETR announced in February 2001 that the Surrey County Council bid had been approved in total and that the sum requested, 404,025, would be available in the financial year 2001/2002. The funding, if required, can be rolled over into subsequent years.

18. In essence, the “Waverley Transport Solutions” bid was to provide start up capital funding and first year revenue funding for the independent Waverley Community Transport organisation. This funding will pay for:

the acquisition of a mixed fleet of fully accessible vehicles;

the employment of a staff team, including drivers;

the acquisition of appropriate premises and garaging facilities; and

the utilisation of state of the art vehicle scheduling and booking ICT software.

19. A second bid was made to the Rural Bus Challenge, on behalf of Waverley Community Transport, in October 2001. This bid was for 150,000 to enable WCT to purchase a site for the Waverley Community Transport operation. In January 2002 the DTLR announced that the bid had been successful. WCT are currently looking at a number of potential permanent sites to house the transport operation.

Applications for Funding to Outside Bodies

20. Funding has been secured from a number of sources. The table below is provided simply for illustrative purposes and is a mixture of both revenue and capital funding:

2001/02
2002/03
2003/04
2004/05
2005/06
Countryside Agency
(Rural Transport
Partnership)(RTP)
83,000
84,000
83,000
DETR (Rural Bus
Challenge)
404,000
150,000
Waverley Borough
Council
10,000
10,000
10,000
Surrey County
Council
37,000
to Waverley CT
10,000
to RTP
43,000
to Waverley CT
10,000
to RTP
37,000
to Waverley CT
10,000
to RTP
West Surrey Health
Authority
25,000
25,000
25,000
25,000
25,000
Surrey Economic
Development
21,000
TOTALS
590,000
322,000
165,000
25,000
25,000
Future bids
Countryside Agency
(Rural Transport
Partnership)
Up to 75% of operating costs
Up to 75% of operating costs
Note: It should be noted that all figures are projections and may vary depending on the availability of external funding sources and the success of the individual projects in generating income.

21. Whilst the above is encouraging, there needs to be a clear understanding of how the long-term revenue funding of any large-scale Community Transport project will be addressed. The table does not show any income from fares, hire charges, training courses and other services that may generate income. A Business Plan is currently being developed by the Waverley Community Transport organisation which will address this.

Action Plan

22. As mentioned earlier in this report, the Action Plan to the Countryside Agency has been approved. This includes the approval of the three-year funding for the Partnership Officer and implementation costs for those projects outlined in paragraph 13 a-g of this report.

23. Since the original bid was made to the Countryside Agency, the rules have changed in relation to the implementation funding. There was a cap of 250,000 for each Partnership in total. However, it is now possible to bid for up to 250,000 for each element of a project and it is the intention of your officers to maximise this opportunity.

24. Each project will, however, need to provide 25% match funding, although a proportion of this can be from “in kind” contributions, such as volunteer time. It should be noted that not all the projects listed above will require this level of funding, although projects a, b, e and f will need significant levels of funding. Applications to the Fund will be made at the appropriate times.

Future Resource/Environmental/’Opportunities for All’ Implications

25. The future position in respect of the funding of Community Transport is complex and continuously changing. Your officers, Surrey County Council and the Waverley Community Transport organisation are reaching a stage where a critical examination of the detailed financial implications can be undertaken.

26. At this point in time, there are no direct resource implications. However, consideration will need to be given in due course to the extent to which the Council is willing, and able, to provide financial support – revenue and/or capital. For the present, your officers are continuing to identify opportunities to maximise resources from outside sources. A further report on the financing of Community Transport and the long-term implications will be made in due course.

27. The Government recently announced proposed changes to the Fuel Duty Rebate whereby it is proposed to extend to Community Transport schemes the current rebate available only to commercial bus operators. This proposal would have a positive effect on the finances of Community Transport schemes.

28. It is suggested that once the detailed financial evaluation of the Rural Transport Action Plan options have been undertaken, your officers will be better placed to project the future funding position. At this stage, it would appear that the Government’s sources of new funding via the Countryside Agency will meet up to 75% of the operating costs and that the resultant shortfall will need to be met from other sources.

29. It should be recognised that other local authorities in Surrey, and elsewhere in the country, contribute a significant amount of revenue to support Community Transport schemes. In the last financial year, the Council made budget provision of 10,000 towards Community Transport with a further 10,000 being provided in the 2002/03 financial year. The Council will have to consider carefully the extent to which it is able to provide revenue support in the medium to longer term once financial projections have been undertaken.

30. There are potential environmental and “Opportunities for All” implications which will be developed as further updates are presented to the Committee on this subject.


Recommendation

It is recommended that the Committee:

1. notes the progress being made in relation to Community Transport in Waverley; and

2. invites officers to report further on the financial implications once the Waverley Community Transport Business Plan has been compiled.



Background Papers (DoH)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.



CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Ms G Dawson Telephone: 01483 523350

Email: gdawson@waverley.gov.uk
COMMS/O&S/09
28231