The role of community transport in the Scottish community sector

John Banner

“Hundreds of thousands of people across Scotland are already working towards making their communities better places to live. This citizen-driven community sector already makes a unique and vital contribution, but with appropriate encouragement and support it can do so much more.”

This is a quotation from the Scottish Community Alliance report entitled ‘Local People Leading: A Vision for a Stronger Community Sector’ which was compiled with contributions from, amongst others, the CTA.   The report argues that Scotland is going through “a time of significant change and uncertainty” and that this is when communities need to pull together.

The report highlights the fact that Scotland’s diverse community sector has 5,200 social enterprises, 30,000 community groups and organisations and 23,0000 regulated voluntary organisations and charities. This, they argue, plays a unique and vital role in making Scotland a better place to live. We couldn’t agree more!

The report is a fascinating read, covering the impact of sport; local development; allotments and community gardens; woodlands; social housing; childcare; and energy, in improving lives for Scots the country over. It also highlights the role of transport, and specifically community transport, in enabling people “to live independently, participate in their community and to access education, employment, health and other services.” The report even comes with a separate document which has a specific focus on transport, laying out the importance of community transport and how the sector can be expanded in Scotland to provide an even greater benefit to communities.

What it says:

“We want to see a rapidly expanded community transport sector in Scotland” the report states: one which can enable CT to provide “flexible, accessible and responsive solutions to unmet local transport needs” on an even wider scale.

The report makes the following recommendations “for community transport to make its fullest contribution”:

  • “The new Integrated Joint Boards, charged with integrating health and social care services should embed community transport into their planning.”
  • “The Scottish Government and local authorities should work with the community transport sector to develop a strategy for ensuring that more people are D1 compliant drivers.”
  • “Transport commissioners should actively consider community transport when developing proposals for socially necessary services.”
  • “Just as concessions are given to older and disabled users of bus services, so concessions should be considered for older and disabled people who use community transport services.”
  • “Government at all levels should continue to support the community sector with initiatives such as the successful 2014 Community Transport Vehicle Fund.”

What we’re saying:

The recommendations that the report lays out are important ways in which the Scottish Government can support community transport in the future. It highlights the incredibly valuable role that our members play in providing access to healthcare but also the fact that, with the proper funding and support, they can do even more to tackle the problems that individuals face.

A solution to the issue of D1 licences is of the upmost importance, as is looking at the issue of concessionary fairs for older passengers. Moreover, the provision of vehicles through the 2014 Community Transport Vehicle Fund made a significant impact on the ability of many of our members to run their services and we would certainly like to see more funding of that sort.

The report also looks at other ways in which the community sector in Scotland can be supported, including sustained investment in community programmes; support for networks of community organisations who work together; and a national community leadership initiative.

The report is certainly worth a read. You can find it here, and the individual section about community transport here.

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