Suffolk community transport group formed

A PIONEERING initiative set up to improve and promote community transport across Suffolk has received a significant cash boost from the Government.

The Department for Transport has awarded a �362,000 grant to help form a new county-wide umbrella organisation, called Suffolk Community Transport.

The first of its kind in England, the organisation will implement an initial three-year strategy to enhance local voluntary transport services.

It will work closely with Suffolk County Council to provide support to the 19 community transport operators in towns across the county, including Lowestoft, Beccles, Bungay, Southwold and Halesworth.

Key objectives in the three-year strategy include adding to the range of community transport services available in Suffolk, sharing of resources where appropriate, and improving efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

One of the Suffolk Community Transport directors, John Phillips, said: 'The provision of community transport has never been so important as it is in today's society.

'Without community transport services, particularly in rural areas, many groups and organisations would simply not be able to function, and the quality of life of many of our residents would be drastically reduced, in some cases leading to complete isolation and even a threat to health.'

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If successful, Mr Phillips said he hoped the scheme could be repeated in other parts of the country.

In England, about 1,700 community transport groups – half of which are run entirely by volunteers – provide more than 15 million passenger trips every year. An estimated 42,000 voluntary groups rely on community transport services to survive

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