Worthing and Adur community transport charity’s funding future debated

Worthing Dial a Ride manager Gary Mills with regular customer Jeanette Richard SUS-180602-112343001
Worthing Dial a Ride manager Gary Mills with regular customer Jeanette Richard SUS-180602-112343001

Council grant funding for community transport initiatives will be made available to a wider range of groups – instead of one popular provider.

Adur and Worthing councils currently commission Dial a Ride to provide a minibus service for those who struggle to get around.

But after a decision by senior councillors on Tuesday, more than £50,000 that Dial a Ride receives annually will be up for grabs to any group offering community transport.

Councillor Val Turner, Worthing Borough Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “We are trying to encourage a community transport service that serves a wider section of our residents who struggle with public transport systems for a variety of reasons. The council has to ensure that we have a system in place that will give us the best outcome for as many of our residents as possible.”

The community transport budget this financial year is £31,020 for Worthing and £20,610 for Adur.

A committee report noted Dial a Ride helped 400 people each month – but said the service was ‘relatively expensive’ to run, not at maximum capacity and not available to all ‘vulnerable or disadvantaged’ groups.

A funding review began late last year.

Council research found 20 local services offering some form of community transport, including Guild Care, Age UK and Sompting Big Local. Patient transport services were not included in the review.

Two options for future funding were considered on Tuesday. Option one was to return the remaining funding to grants. The report said this would make funds ‘more accessible’ to a wider range of providers.

Option two opened the door to continuing the councils’ partnership with Dial a Ride – but option one was chosen by the joint strategic committee.

Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, the report said Dial a Ride had been offered a six-month funding contract, running between April and September – an offer which was not yet accepted.

Worthing opposition leader, Labour’s Beccy Cooper – not on the committee – said the decision was a chance for Dial a Ride and others ‘to look at what more can be done to provide an efficient, effective service’.

She said any grants system should not be too complex and providers should partner up to develop services.