North Walsham Area Community Transport Association set to move headquarters

A community bus service which transports people all over rural north-east Norfolk is on the move itself this month.

The North Walsham and Area Community Transport Association (NWACTA) is revving up its engines and heading for a new headquarters in the town, after more than a decade based in the Oaks Lodge former air-raid shelter in the New Road car park.

NWACTA, a registered charity, is moving into the town council and information office building, at 3 New Road, and will be parking its fleet of minibuses nearby, on a piece of land owned by North Norfolk District Council, off Hall Lane.

Alan Price, chairman of NWACTA's trustees, said they had outgrown Oaks Lodge and the new base would be more accessible for the public using other services in the building.

The parking switch would also be an improvement. 'Up to now we have based all our vehicles at Rossi's Leisure Centre. We are very grateful for all the help we have received from Mr Bruce Rossi and hope to continue these arrangements but the distance between our office and our parked vehicles has presented increasing problems as the needs we serve have grown,' said Mr Price.

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'Bringing our office people and some vehicles closer together will help both our volunteer drivers and escorts, and those who used our services. From our customers' point of view it will be business as usual during the changeover.'

NWACTA's services are open to anyone in the area who does not have easy access to other forms of transport and include Dial-a-Ride, Flexibus (Poppybus), Mediride - services to and from hospital and other medical establishments - group transport, and some contract work.

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Mr Price estimated that they provided an average of 360 passenger journeys each week but anticipated 'considerable growth'.

NWACTA currently runs six minibuses with another due for delivery shortly.

A spokesman for social landlords the Victory Housing Trust said they had earmarked �40,000 for community transport during the next financial year and were in discussions with NWACTA, although nothing had been agreed.

More than half of Victory's near-5,000 housing stock was in rural areas and many tenants, especially the elderly, found transport a problem, said the spokesman.

Tenants had helped draw up a Victory Charter of spending priorities and cash for community transport and shops had been among them.

'We don't believe in re-inventing the wheel,' he said. 'If there is already an organisation out there which is doing a good job of providing a service - as NWACTA is - we want to work with them.'

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