How two Big Local areas are tackling transport problems
Several Big Local areas have identified community transport as an area they would like to target through their Big Local plans. Gaps in public transport can leave residents isolated from essential services such as a visit to the doctor or the shops to buy food. They can also limit residents’ ability to gain employment, undertake education or training, or even visit friends.
Big Local areas are striving to reduce the transport problems residents face by taking charge and making improvements. They are finding creative ways of providing transport solutions in their local area.
In this case study we focus on the Ramsey and Warwick Estate Big Local areas to highlight some of the different ways you can tackle transport problems.
Why focus on transport?
There are many reasons residents feel transport is an important issue to address, many of which have been picked up through the consultation processes in Big Local areas. Good transport helps:
- people access employment opportunities outside their local area
- people access important health services, such as the doctor, dentist or pharmacy
- the area become more accessible and better connected to the areas and services surrounding it
- provide new opportunities to enjoy life further afield
- create services which cater for the wider needs of the community including early morning and late evening connections.
In Ramsey, the Big Local partnership is undertaking a range of complementary approaches towards improving transport for their area. It is working to improve opportunities at both the individual and community levels, as well as helping to influence public services. The partnership hopes its combined approach will make lasting improvements to transport and create new opportunities for residents living in the area:
- For individual residents, the Big Local partnership is working with local businesses and charities to offer an affordable moped hire scheme which will support pathways into employment.
- It is working with local transport companies to extend existing local bus services.
- It is working with the council to influence wider transport issues affecting Ramsey and investigate potential improvements. Some residents would like to improve the cycle routes in the area and explore ways to achieve this.
Helping young people access employment - local scooter rental
Kickstart is a registered regional charity which provides scooters or mopeds to people who have restricted transport options. This gives people more freedom in their lives and can help them find and stay in employment. Kickstart has previously received funding and contracts to offer their services throughout Norfolk. In Ramsey Kickstart is working at a local level through an enterprising franchise model.
Steve Powell is a resident in Ramsey who owns and runs a motorcycle shop. He is looking to work with Kickstart to offer scooters for people locally to rent. The service is targeted particularly at younger people who may require a scooter to travel outside the area to find employment.
Steve will also partner with another local organisation, The Gauntlet Auto Project, which works mainly with young people offering motorcycle riding, scrambling and maintenance courses. The Gauntlet Auto Project aims to promote:
- safe motorbike riding
- self-esteem in young people
- mechanical and IT skills
- youth volunteering
- good citizenship.
Working together, they aim to stimulate interest in motorcycle riding for practical purposes and help to increase people’s mobility.
Ramsey community bus – extending services through collaboration
A community bus service has also been developed in Ramsey. This ensures there is a way for residents to reach surrounding areas affordably. It is a limited service and in order for it to be viable and financially sustainable is based on the peak times of need.
Currently, there is also a bigger community transport service called Hunts Association of Community Transport (HACT) operating throughout Huntingdonshire.
Through Big Local, Ramsey is taking a collaborative approach to community bus services and hopes that it will be able to work together with HACT to improve the transport services offered in Ramsey.
Warwick Ahead Big Local has set up a transport subgroup to see how they can improve the transport services in their area. Their priorities for transport are:
- to provide transport for community activities
- to provide transport for residents in the local area to get around
- to create local jobs.
Warwick Ahead Big Local would like to buy a minibus to provide a community transport service. A driver and an administrator will be employed, while a pool of volunteer drivers will also be recruited and receive training. The aim is to create job opportunities and increase opportunities for learning and skill development in the area. To get their community transport service launched, the transport subgroup is working with its regional transport supplier Metro.
The transport subgroup first worked with the Reconnect service, which offers specialist support and experience in setting up community transport initiatives within the Wakefield district. The subgroup is now working with the Old Goldcroft Association, which is helping with a bid to fund the purchase of the vehicle. If the group can gain some matched-funding from Metro, it will use some of its funds for the community bus and start running a service!
An enterprising approach
Residents will be invited to use the service either individually or through community groups. Warwick Ahead Big Local hopes it can create a self-sustaining community transport project after approximately a year by charging an annual membership fee, and an additional small charge per use. Once established, the project could link to a wider bus network and attract other income and service users from other parts of the Wakefield district.
Making the area an even better place to live
While there is still some work to do to finalise the agreement with Metro in Warwick Ahead, some important first steps have been achieved in talking to local and experienced organisations. As Rebekah Eyles, chair of the Warwick Ahead Big Local partnership explains:
“The community transport service gives people a better chance of getting a job because residents will have transport they can rely on”.
More momentum on community transport
Many other areas are also exploring their own options for improving transport locally. If you have ideas you would like to share about what your Big Local area is doing on this issue please get in touch to let us know about them.