Council’s new model for community transport launched

A campaign in January against changes to community transport in Suffolk. ANL-160125-173713001
A campaign in January against changes to community transport in Suffolk. ANL-160125-173713001
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Suffolk County Council has launched its re-modelled rural transport service across the county.

Brought in as part of money saving across the council, the council says it is part of a major council transformation plan to connect communities with the services they want and need.

The new model has moved away from having multiple contractors providing services to having one lead contractor in each area with a single point of contact.

Delivering these services are organisations that have experience delivering services across Suffolk, with the Babergh region being led by Hadleigh Community Transport Group, subcontracting to GoStart in the Sudbury area.

Suffolk County Councillor James Finch, cabinet member for highways and transport said: “We have listened closely to the communities that use the services and have undertook full impact assessments to understand the challenges faced by different users.

“I am really pleased with how the new services are being provided. I had been frequently told that the previous system for using services was very difficult for people to understand, we have now changed that, there will simply be one phone number for residents to use to get the service they need in their community.”

There was, however, criticism of the changes when they were first announced, with accusations that users and transport groups had not been properly consulted.

Users, transport groups, including chairman of trustees at GoStart John Philips and Labour councillors were among those to hit out at the plans.

Despite this, Wendy Shepherd, a representative of the Suffolk User Forum for Mental Health who attended said: “I was pleased to hear that consideration has been taken to include all members of the community that find themselves isolated or having difficulty with transport regardless of age.

“It will be helpful for those to remember only one telephone number and it is good to hear that those delivering the service are working in partnership to ensure best practice is shared.”