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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 11/10/2005
Waverley Hoppa Community Transport - Progress Report



Summary & Purpose
This report advises members of progress being made in respect of Hoppa service developments and future funding shortfalls in 2006/07.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
Positive
Positive
N/A
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive


ANNEXE 2
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

COMMUNITY AND OVERVIEW SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
– 26TH SEPTEMBER 2005

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Title:

WAVERLEY HOPPA COMMUNITY TRANSPORT – PROGRESS REPORT
[Wards Affected: All.]
_________________________________________________________________________

Summary and purpose:

This report advises members of progress being made in respect of Hoppa service developments and future funding shortfalls in 2006/07.

_________________________________________________________________________

Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):

E-Government implications:

There are no E-government implications arising from this report.

Resource and legal implications:

External funding from Central Government, via the Countryside Agency, expires at the end of the 2005/06 financial year. For service delivery to continue at existing levels there needs to be alternative sources of funding to meet the anticipated shortfall. The Council will need to determine whether it wishes to increase its financial support to the organisation.

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Introduction

1. Waverley Hoppa Community Transport, known as Hoppa, has been operating since May 2002. At the end of the current financial year the three year, time limited external funding received from the Countryside Agency (in 2005/06 administered by SEEDA) will expire, resulting in a shortfall of some 125,000 per annum in the following years.

2. This report highlights the current service provision of the organisation, the initiatives being undertaken to achieve greater self sustainability and indications of the viability of the service should the shortfall not be met by alternative means.

3. In summary, Hoppa needs a steady stream of core funding in order to underpin its operations. With the loss of the Countryside Agency revenue grant of 125,000, it is likely that the Hoppa Board will have to give serious consideration to the future and, indeed, whether the organisation can continue. Background

4. Throughout public consultation exercises carried out by Waverley and its partners over the last seven years, transport rates as an important issue. The Waverley Community Strategy, devised by the Local Strategic Partnership for example, has transport as one of its priority areas for action. As can be seen from this report Hoppa is making a considerable contribution towards addressing transport issues but the lack of a core revenue funding stream brings into question the organisational viability beyond 2006.

5. During the three years of operation, the Hoppa service has clearly demonstrated its value in serving the local communities within Waverley. It has contributed to social inclusion and helped support the local economy, as well as providing safe and secure door-to-door transport. It has enabled people to access recreational and cultural facilities and has ensured that rurally isolated groups can access services.

6. The organisation has gradually expanded its portfolio of services and has moved away from traditional community transport service provision into providing a range of services that meet the needs of the whole community. Families with young children, home to school students, young people not old enough to drive, people who are frail or who have physical disabilities and cannot easily access conventional public transport or drive, or those who are rurally isolated and simply do not have any other form of public transport have all benefited by the introduction of new services. These are highlighted in the next section.

7. In the last year, the organisation has acquired Charitable status, to sit alongside its existing structure as a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee. The Board of Directors has expanded and now includes a number of volunteers who are able to give up a considerable amount of their time and professional knowledge to help Hoppa develop and achieve long term sustainability.

8. The vehicle fleet has expanded to nine vehicles; the latest addition being an MPV size vehicle acquired from Farnham Voluntary Transport Association. Additional vehicles are also brought in from external sources on an ad hoc basis.

9. Hoppa is in its last year of funding from the Countryside Agency. An annual grant of 125,000 has been used to support the revenue costs of providing the Hoppa Shoppa and Tourer services and the driver training programme. A report in January 2004 to this Committee indicated that this grant was likely to expire in April 2005. However, following efforts by your officers and Hoppa management, the grant was extended for a third year.

10. The demise of the Countryside Agency and its grant making programmes means that there is no possibility of this grant, or similar, being available in 2006/07.

Current Service Provision

11. In the current financial year Surrey County Council has grant aided Hoppa 50,000 and Waverley Voluntary Grants Panel, to which the Borough Council contributes, awarded 12,500. In addition, a further one off grant from Waverley of 16,800 from the Community Partnerships Fund and 15,250 from the Waverley Voluntary Grants Panel was awarded as part contribution to the one year pilot project providing transport to the Royal Surrey County Hospital. Approximately 100,000 per annum is raised through fares and contract hire.

12. A presentation to this Committee in May 2004 by members of the Hoppa Board highlighted the need for increased financial support from the Borough Council. The urgent need for such support in 2005/06 was tempered by the additional year of funding from the Countryside Agency. However, the situation has not radically altered, despite the efforts to bring in additional work described below.

13. Hoppa continues to provide three distinct core services, along with a number of other initiatives designed to maximise the usage of the vehicle resource at the organisation’s disposal.

14. Hoppa Shoppa: A door-to-door dial-a-bus service operating in and around the four main settlements of Haslemere, Cranleigh, Godalming and Farnham. The service operates during the middle part of the day, Monday to Friday, allowing vehicles to be utilised for other purposes at the beginning and end of the day. During the financial year April 2004 – March 2005 a total of 13,894 passenger journeys were undertaken, of which 5,397 were in Godalming, 4,025 in Haslemere, 2,932 in Farnham and 1,540 in Cranleigh.

15. Hoppa Ranger: This service provided bespoke door-to-door transport for individuals to destinations within the Borough not covered by the Hoppa Shoppa or which cut across Hoppa Shoppa zones or at times the Hoppa Shoppa does not operate. The Ranger service can also undertake journeys to destinations outside of Waverley. In 2004/05 a total of 2,640 passenger journeys were undertaken.

16. Hoppa Tourer: The Hoppa Tourer provides group travel for local community and voluntary groups, schools, day centres etc. Vehicles can be hired with or without a driver. Organisations can provide their own driver, thus reducing the cost of hiring the vehicles, provided they have undertaken and passed the MiDAS Minibus driver training programme. Hoppa Tourer made a total of 29,722 passenger journeys in 2004/05.

17. In total 46,256 passenger journeys were completed in 2004/05, a 29% increase on the figure for 2003/04. Over 1,600 residents of the Borough are now registered to use the service.

18. In the first three months of 2005/06 the Hoppa Shoppa has undertaken a total of 3,432 passenger journeys, the Hoppa Tourer, 9,164 and the Hoppa Ranger 940. The total figure of 13,725, which also includes the new hospital service, amounted to increases, across the board, on the corresponding months of 2004/05 of 14% in April, 13% in May and 17% in June.

New Initiatives

19. Hoppa has been working to broaden its activity and generate more income through grants, contracts and charges in order to become more financially viable. These initiatives include:

(i) Hospital Hoppa – A one year pilot funded by the Borough Council’s Community Partnership Fund, the Waverley Voluntary Grants Panel and Godalming and Haslemere Town Councils. This service provides a demand responsive door-to- door service along a corridor from Haslemere through Godalming to the Royal Surrey County Hospital at Guildford. Since starting in May 2005, the service has grown rapidly and passenger numbers have exceeded expectation. This project has been developed in partnership with some of the voluntary social car schemes in the area who now refer clients who need to make journeys to the RSCH to the Hoppa service. This has the added benefit of freeing up their volunteer drivers to provide journeys for non-medical purposes.

(ii) Education – Using Surrey County Council’s ‘Safe Routes to Schools’ funding Hoppa provides an after-school service for Rodborough School, enabling students, who otherwise would have no means of getting home, the opportunity to stay behind for after-school activities. On average, fifteen to twenty students use the service each evening. Two new services, one to St Mark’s Primary School in Ockford Ridge, Godalming and one serving Broadwater School, will commence in September 2005. Funding for these services comes again from ‘Safe Routes to Schools’, the latter service being part of the larger Godalming Transport Plan project, in partnership with Surrey County Council’s Local Transport Plan team. Hoppa have also recently won a tender to provide a service to pupils at Busbridge School. This will commence in September.

(iii) The Square Surgery, Godalming - Hoppa is working with the Surgery Partners and the developers of the new surgery at Catteshall Lane to provide a transport link to the new surgery. Funding will be available from the developers and will be matched with funding from Surrey County Council as part of the Godalming Transport Plan.

(iv) Youth initiatives –The Cranleigh FLY (For Local Youth) project continues to use Hoppa to ensure young people attending activities can travel safely to and from the events. Hoppa is working with the FLY organisers to develop and expand the service in the future.

(v) Social Services – Hoppa operate some services, primarily to day centres and other residential establishments, on behalf of Social Services. Some of these are through competitively won contracts, whilst others are by way of ad hoc spot purchased requests.

20. Hoppa holds an Operators (‘O’) licence which allows the organisation to provide services open to the general public. Discussions with Surrey County Council into Hoppa providing alternative services to the conventional stage carriage journeys operated by commercial bus operators are ongoing. These discussions will link with the County Council’s plans to create a Transport Co-ordination Centre. The lead officer for that project has already indicated he sees Hoppa having a key role in service provision as the TCC develops.

21. These and other initiatives will to a certain extent be income generating. However, the income received, once the actual costs of providing the service have been accounted for, will not compensate for the loss of the revenue funding described elsewhere in this report.

22. Community Transport projects rarely, if ever, break even financially. Most schemes are provided with a core revenue stream from a public body. From this secure financial position schemes can develop and broaden their areas of transport work with confidence. In the case of Waverley Hoppa the Countryside Agency has provided a revenue stream of 125,000 per annum for the last three years.

Funding Issues

23. The table below highlights the contributions made by the other district councils in Surrey to their schemes, whether they be in house or independent, as with Hoppa.

Council support District and Borough Dial A RideDial A Ride and Day Centre Provision
Elmbridge395,000 +
Epsom and Ewell395,000 #
Guildford350,000 #
Mole Valley200,000 +
Reigate and Banstead150,000 +
Runnymede193,000#
Spelthorne250,000 #
Surrey Heath157,000 #
Tandridge30,000 # (plus an additional 30,000 to Taxi voucher scheme)
Waverley12,500 #
Woking198,000 #
+ 2002/03 figures –Latest available
# 2005/06 figures

24. Because of Waverley’s challenging financial position, the Council has not been able to find revenue resources to support Hoppa to any significant extent. However, Waverley Hoppa, supported by council officers, has managed to find external revenue income to support this venture. This revenue stream will end in April 2006 and the prospect of finding alternative revenue support does not look promising.

Conclusion

25. The shortfall in funding, left as a result of the expiry of the Countryside Agency grant of 125,000 will, in part, be made up by an increase in service provision and the award of a number of contracts, as described above. However, in order for Hoppa to carry on providing a level of core service approximating to that at present, the total of grant funding needs to be substantially increased. Without this funding the Board of Directors, mindful of the need to ensure redundancy packages etc are in place, will shortly have to examine to what extent Hoppa can carry on providing a service to the residents of Waverley. 26. Since 1999 in excess of 1million has been generated from external sources to support the development and initial running costs of Hoppa. The work of the organisation, as judged by the year on year increase in users of the service, is greatly valued by a wide cross section of the community. 27. The service becomes more valuable each year, as the conventional bus network, particularly in the rural parts of the Borough, is withdrawn by the commercial operators, and Surrey County Council is unable to financially support these routes. In many areas Hoppa is already the only option for people wanting to use non-private transport.

28. The County Council’s Local Committee has considered these issues and it is seeking support from the County Council Executive attached at Annexe 1. More importantly under the Local Area Agreement transport is one of the themes which the County and Boroughs and Districts have agreed to work together on.

29. The Chief Officers Group recommends that officers report further on the opportunities for sustainable funding for these services.

Recommendation

It is recommended that:-

1. the progress made by the Hoppa organisation and the initiatives it is undertaking in order to achieve long term sustainability be noted; and 2. the Committee comments on the future role of Hoppa, mindful of the funding issues facing the organisation in the coming year. ________________________________________________________________________

Background Papers (DoH)

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

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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Clive Parkinson Telephone 01483 523037

E-mail: cparkinson@waverley.gov.uk

Comms/o&s2/05-06/010