Search for alternative dial-a-ride funding hits the buffers

First published in News

A RETHINK on alternative funding for the dial-a-ride service has been scuppered.

Labour councillors put forward a motion to call on Cherwell District Council to investigate whether there were any grants available to supplement the service.

The Tory-run council instead backed an amended proposal, which effectively agreed to look to the voluntary sector for help.

The move comes after Banburyshire Community Transport closed after two decades. It could not afford to run the bus scheme after failing to win a key council contract and the charity folded along with 15 jobs.

Previously Cherwell District Council had contributed £187,500 a year to the charity’s running costs and £26,364 from Oxfordshire County Council.

But from April, Cherwell cut its contribution to £30,000.

Labour group leader Patrick Cartledge said: “All they’ve done is changed the motion from what we put forward so there is nothing substantial; it’s meaningless.”

But town council leader Kieron Mallon, pictured, described the amendments as being in the ‘same spirit’ as the original motion. He added: “The original motion asked for a review and there’s a review already taking place.

“They asked for extra funding to be given to dial-a-ride in Cherwell, and there’s £30,000 put in already.

“My motion recognises in these straight times councils cannot pluck money out of the air. I’m asking councils to work together across Oxfordshire and look at ways to make this system better.”

Meanwhile, Windmill Thursday Club in Deddington said it has been hit by the collapse of BCTA.

Deputy co-ordinator Jean Rudge said the transport service stopped overnight and last week only four of the usual 12 could make it.

She said: “It’s always the vulnerable who pay.

“If we don’t get a bus we can’t run. It’s so important for people to get social contact, let alone a hot meal.”

Mrs Rudge did not believe the volunteer driver scheme could work because there was no set price; club goers paid £7.50 including lunch and transport.

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