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Invest in community transport, says NALC
The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) is today calling for the Government to invest more money in community transport in rural areas across England – and to clarify the rules around the use of community transport by local (parish and town) councils.
At a time when austerity in local government is almost a decade old – many community transport services in England have been decimated due to funding cuts to local authorities. Enter local councils (such as Bishop’s Stortford Town Council in Hertfordshire) which are starting to fill in the frontline service gaps with relevant services such as community minibus use to take the elderly to clubs and adult social care hubs.
But in a climate where local councils can do much more to fill in for some of these cuts to frontline community services (especially in rural parished areas) – the Government has to recognize that the need to re-invest more money in frontline community transport services is critical (directly or via local authorities).
NALC also wants Government to appropriately empower local councils to step up to the plate and do more for community transport – in a fairer context of greater investment and clearer regulation. The Government has clarified section 19 of its guidance on community transport for instance on licensing – but needs to more clearly get this message out to local councils.
Jonathan Owen, NALC chief executive, said “We are happy for local councils – where they want to – to step up to the mark and do more for their residents on community transport. But the government needs to clarify the rules around what local councils can and can’t do around licensing. We also feel that if local councils were statutory consultees on Traffic Commissioner matters – the rules around community transport would be better framed and understood in general. And the Government giving local councils the powers to enforce civil parking penalties would go a very long way towards clearing roads in parished areas to ensure that community transport could operate more smoothly.”