A TOWN council is set to consider the possibility of commissioning a charity transport organisation to bring extra bus services to the area. The move comes after a presentation by Pat Laughlin from Ashbourne Community Transport to Cheadle Town Council at it's meeting on Monday, October 21. Ms Laughlin, who is a director and the chairman of the board of trustees of the transport charity, explained that the organisation operates commercial services to be able to offer charitable transport in Derbyshire.
She said: “We don’t currently cover this area (Cheadle) but do have a lot of enquiries for the area which, at the moment, we can not fulfil.”
Ms Laughlin went on to explain that the organisation was started in the 1990s to provide transport for those who could not use public transport, but that now the service has expanded due to rural areas where there is no public transport.
She said: “We do cover a large part of Derbyshire and some of the Staffordshire Moorlands. We also run a service in the Uttoxeter area.
“We are not a daily scheduled service but a service which responds to people’s needs.
“People book to use the service and, even though we can’t accommodate everyone, we do cover about 90 per cent of the demand we get.”
Ms Laughlin further explained that the organisation has some commercial roles, such as school runs and private hire, in order to be able to offer the subsidised charitable runs.
She said: “The whole point of bringing this to your attention is that there are demands in your area and we can offer a cost effective service.
“And it’s about getting people where they want to go and when they want to go.”
Ms Laughlin further explained that the organisation likes to keep it to a £5 return ticket for their users, and that it is a door to door service.
She added: “We are not making any profit. Any money made goes back into the service.”
After Ms Laughlin’s presentation, councillors thanked her for her time and bringing the Ashbourne Community Transport’s service to their attention.
Councillor Ron Locker said: “You have come at a poignant time as public bus services are not seen so much in our town.
“We have got to do something to encourage people into our town, to try and increase the footfall.”
Councillor Richard Alcock agreed and stated: “There are a lot of people in villages who do not have cars. I welcome any kind of transport.”
Councillor Gary Bentley mooted that it could be advantageous to have other parishes in the area on board to make it more cost effective. He said: “If you could go around the different villages, it could work.”
Councillor Kate Martin agreed with Mr Bentley’s suggestion of involving other parishes and asked Ms Laughlin: “If you are going round to other councils, can you come up with some sort of package where each town and parish can pay so much to get such a service going?”
Ms Laughlin said she would be able to come up with such costings to take back to Cheadle Town Council for further consideration.
Councillors agreed to set up a sub-committee group to focus on the possibility of subsidising such a new service, as it is a “matter of urgency”.
Later on in their meeting, Cheadle town councillors also debated current bus services in the area, with a suggestion that they invite bus service operators to come to a future meeting to discuss concerns that councillors have.
Maria and Ian Leyland from Cheadle are hosting a bingo night to raise funds for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) and for the provision of heart screening for 14 to 35-year-olds in honour of their son Joseph who suddenly passed away in 2016 aged 16.
This will take place this on Saturday (November 2) at 7.30pm at Cheadle Cricket Club.
Tickets are £8 which includes a book of bingo tickets, the buffet and the raffle.
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