NALC event discusses the benefits of community transport


The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) transport event on 27 March 2024 discussed the benefits of reconnecting communities through community transport.

The expert panel featured Bridport Town Council town clerk Will Austin and director for England at the Community Transport Association Caroline Whitney. They spoke about the benefits of community transport, how to establish partnerships, what funding opportunities there are, and how local (parish and town) councils can make a difference in reconnecting your community through transport.

Caroline Whitney delved into the essence of community transport, discussing its fundamental principles, accessibility, and strategies for optimising its efficacy within a community. She emphasised its core mission in addressing the unmet transport needs and extending its accessibility to all individuals facing such challenges. Asserting that community transport is a service for everyone, stating, "It is essential to consider how you can make the most effective use of the vehicles available within your community". She highlighted the pivotal role of drivers, often serving as friends or social workers, in fostering meaningful relationships with passengers and when recruiting drivers to consider the social aspect, too.

Will Austin spoke about Bridport Town Council in Dorset's journey in implementing and managing a community transport service over the past six years. Their initiative aimed to combat social exclusion while contributing to environmental sustainability by reducing carbon emissions. However, he addressed the challenges encountered, notably the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For this reason, emphasising resilience and perseverance among councillors is vital. He advised councils considering implementing community transport to listen to the experts and stated, "The experts told our council to choose a community transport provider which has benefited the service."

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