On Wednesday 21st March, members of the National Assembly for Wales joined together to celebrate and support community transport. They called on the Welsh Government to work in partnership with the sector and with public bodies to ensure that community transport can continue its vital work of providing accessible and inclusive transport services for vulnerable people in communities across Wales.
In opening the debate, Mark Isherwood AM highlighted a range of challenges facing the sector including short-term funding arrangements which inhibit successful planning for the future and the Department for Transport’s current consultation regarding section 19 & 22 permits.
In their motion, the National Assembly for Wales noted that “community transport services play a vital role in our communities, providing transport for people who face barriers to accessing public and private transport, supporting people to live independently and access vital services, while also mitigating issues around loneliness and isolation.”
Members from all parties celebrated the efforts of community transport staff and volunteers in Wales, highlighting examples from CTA members Eastvale Community Transport, Dinas Powys Voluntary Concern, Bloomfield Centre Dial-a-Ride, Denbighshire Dial-a-Ride and more.
In Powys, for example, CT operators drove over 8,000 people over 800,000 miles and delivered 108,000 single passenger journeys in the last year alone. Without these services, Powys Council for Voluntary Organisations estimate that half of the passengers using services would lose their transport with an £800,000 bill for the local authority and health board to provide the same services.
The Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport, Ken Skates, was also supportive, said that it was an important debate about a vital service for communities across Wales.
In referring to plans for a new national transport strategy, he said that he was “convinced that community transport should and will make a vital contribution to an integrated public transport network in the future.”
He also confirmed that the Welsh Government will be working with the sector to consider the potential impact of proposed changes to the community transport permit regime and work with CTA in Wales to develop contingency plans to mitigate any potentially negative impact on services.
Finally, the Cabinet Secretary said he wished to “pay tribute to the community transport sector for keeping this item right at the top of the transport agenda.”
And as ever, all of us at the CTA want to pay tribute to our members who work tirelessly to deliver community transport services every day of the year and to all those who contributed to the debate yesterday by writing to their Assembly Members to ensure this hard work is recognised.
The debate motion, which was passed unanimously, can be viewed here: http://www.senedd.assembly.wales/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=21411
The debate can be viewed in full via Senedd TV here: http://www.senedd.tv/Meeting/Archive/b9d1f87a-80ed-4a7a-9436-5e0ba895f0d0?autostart=True