Rural out-reach scheme scrapped in Breckland
A mobile project helping rural communities to access training, computers and council services is to be scrapped for failing to offer value for money.
The eye-catching One Stop Bus was launched by Breckland Council two years ago to reach out to villages and residents with no access to transport.
Run in partnership with Poultec Training, based near Dereham, it visits 17 rural or deprived areas during the week and an additional Saturday morning service was rolled out in the district's five market towns in April.
Grant funding for the scheme ran out at the end of last month and the council yesterday (Monday) ruled it cannot afford to maintain the service.
A report to Breckland's cabinet said it was not well-used while the cost 'per contact' with residents on board the bus was 100 times greater than in customer service centres.
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Footfall figures show that, on average, only 13 people used the bus per month between April and July.
The service was not used by anyone in seven of the villages visited during those four months, including Narborough, near Swaffham and Weeting near Thetford.
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It had already been discontinued in East Harling and Banham, near Attleborough, due to lack of interest.
'The cost per contact on the bus on Saturdays, when the footfall should be at its peak, is greater than static customer service centres during week days,' the report states.
The figures show that more than half of the enquiries received on the bus, staffed by three people, were for non-Breckland services.
'Withdrawal of a service that reaches out is counter to council aims,' the report concludes. 'But the value of the service needs to be weighed against the substantial costs.'
Officers warned it would cost an estimated �109,000 per year to run a like for like service using the same set-up or �59,000 per year if smaller customer service centres were closed on the days the bus operates to provide staff.
Breckland's cabinet followed officers' recommendation and yesterday voted to end the project.
Two temporary staff will now face redundancy.