Tories Offer No Extra Help To Wyvern

The Tory Cabinet voted last night to refuse to pass the full funding from the County Council to the District?s Community Transport scheme delivered by Wyvern Community Transport. They agreed to continue to allocate 34% of the funds (approx ?23,000) to ?top up? the District Council?s own Taxi Voucher scheme which is ONLY available to residents who qualify for Higher Level benefits..

Here’s part of the report (which may help explain things if you are not familiar with Wyvern):

1.1This report is to seek Members? views on a request from Wyvern Community Transport to receive 100% of the funding allocated to Rochford District Council from Essex County Council under the Community Transport Partnership Agreement for 2008/09.

2.1 In October 2003 a Community Transport Scheme was introduced in the District which aimed at assisting residents who were unable to access public transport with their transport needs.
2.2 Users must join the scheme for an annual fee of ?5 and as a member they may book their door-to-door transport service, paying a small fee for the journey. Bookings must be made in advance of the day of travel and are carried out in a wheelchair accessible minibus.

2.3 The Community Transport Scheme in Rochford is operated by the Wyvern Community Transport Trust…
….
3.4 Rochford is one of only two Districts, where the funding is paid to the Local Authority and not directly to the District?s Community Transport Scheme. This arrangement operates because a percentage of the grant is allocated to support Rochford Council?s Taxi Voucher Scheme.

3.5 Rochford Council is also one of the few Authorities that do not make any further contributions specifically to support the Community Transport Scheme, though substantial additional resources are allocated to the Taxi Voucher Scheme.

The Wyvern Community Transport Scheme is available to the far greater number of residents who are not necessarily on benefits and have lesser degrees of immobility or impairment. However they didn’t find many friends in the cabinet at last night’s meeting. One of the options that the officers suggested was to give 100 percent of the County Council’s money to Wyvern, and fund the taxi scheme separately. But the Cabinet clearly looked at it as a community transport scheme vs taxis scheme.

Michael Starke said ? Anything which dilutes the Taxi Voucher scheme is to be abhorred?
He proposed the resolution to refuse, seconded by Peter Webster .

Mavis Webster ? Taxi Vouchers give people more choice, they can arrange their own trips for when they like and go where they like? *(see below – less people are eligible for taxi vouchers.)

Colin Seagers asked ?Why are there no volunteer drivers in the scheme? And why is there a shortage in this District when other districts do not appear to have a problem? Given volunteer drivers we could provide more transport for eligible people?
(This thinking shows a lack of understanding of the difficulties in obtaining volunteers for any charity these days)

Criteria for eligibility for Taxi Vouchers:
? be in receipt of higher level attendance allowance
? be in receipt of the mobility component of disability allowance
? be blind or partially sighted
? be in receipt of a war pension
? must not have a bus pass
? must not have a car

Criteria for eligibility for Wyvern Community Transport:
? be a permanent resident of the District
? have restricted mobility
? temporarily have restricted mobility
? have no public transport available
? if transport needs are not met by existing timetables

Note: for this scheme there is no restriction on having a bus pass or having a car

In answer to Cllr Mrs Webster?s comments, the Wyvern Community Transport scheme provides a pre booked door to door service which meets the needs of a greater number of elderly vulnerable residents who are not necessarily on benefits but who have difficulty accessing public transport, either because there is no service or because they have restricted mobility or live in isolated areas not served by public transport.

The scheme provides specially equipped wheel chair accessible mini buses with a lift and social cars which can be booked for
? shopping
? hospital visiting, doctors appointments, dentist/optician/chiropodists visits
? social/day centres, lunch clubs, church
? rehabilitation classes
? further education
? visit to friends and family

Community Transport makes effort to keep costs as low as possible.
The transport manager?s salary is one of the lowest in the County.
The Computerised booking system is operated by a volunteer every day and operates from the St Lukes Centre at Rochford on a low rent.