Rural transport boost for Norfolk

The government has announced more than �10m of new funding for community transport in rural areas - and pledged more to Norfolk than any other county in the UK.

It was announced this morning that the money would be distributed around the country to provide transport to a range of centres and services including schools, hospitals and clinics and youth clubs.

Norfolk has been promised �480,511, more than any other county, while Suffolk was given �362,143.

There are around 1,700 community transport organisations in England, run by more than 60,000 volunteers and 10,000 staff.

They provide various forms of transport in rural areas including community buses for social clubs and dedicated schemes for isolated communities such as dial-a-ride.

All are run on a not-for-profit basis.

Norman Baker MP, minister for regional and local transport, said the money was intended to 'kick-start the development of community transport services'.

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'Public transport remains a key element in the sustainability and independence of rural communities, offering young people access to education and employment opportunities, linking customers to shops and services and providing a lifeline to those without access to a car.

'Where commercial bus services are not viable, community transport can play a valuable role in preventing isolation,' he said.

'Services such as dial-a-ride can, in some areas, be more efficient, effective and sustainable in the long term.

'I know that there are already many good examples of community groups and local authorities working together to deliver innovative solutions to rural transport needs and this is something we wish to see increased.'

The money will complement the �560m Local Sustainable Transport Fund, which local authorities can bid for over the next four years.

The government also announced that each of the 76 rural local authorities in England would be given �2,600 worth of consultancy advice on how to establish, manage and make sustainable community transport operations within their area.