TWO community schemes are hoping to plug the gap left by a major cut in council dial-a-ride services.

They will provide minibuses, volunteer car drivers and information in the wake of the cuts to the door-to-door service.

Until April, there were up to seven buses taking pensioners and disabled people on essential local trips around the Cherwell district every day.

But Cherwell District Council cut spending from £187,500 a year to £30,000, with Oxfordshire County Council putting in about the same.

The cut means Cherwell now gets one bus for two days and two buses for three. It also saw the closure of Banburyshire Community Transport (BCTA), because it lost the contract to run Cherwell’s dial-a-ride.

This meant the loss of BCTA’s private service for group bookings.

But former employees have now bought two BCTA buses and have been given access to two more to provide trips away. Volunteers are running the new Banbury Assisted Transport Scheme and it is hoped grants will mean users will not be charged.

Among the users is Sheila Speakman, 80, from Union Street, Banbury, who campaigned against the cuts. She went with 15 others on a trip to Dorset last month. She said: “At least you have something to hold on to and something to work with.”

Brooklands Nursing Home in Old Parr Road has bought two of BCTA’s buses and is letting the new group use them.

Proprietor Mark Taylor said he was “very upset” when BCTA closed. He has used the buses to take people on trips to Yarnton and Leamington Spa.

Meanwhile, the CAB has been given district council cash to help residents get in touch with volunteer transport providers. The charity will also set up new car sharing schemes where needed.