Please don’t cut off our transport lifeline

Volunteer Mike Beck with a community transport bus.
Volunteer Mike Beck with a community transport bus.

FUNDING cuts to the town’s community transport would end up costing taxpayers more in the long run, according to critics.

Last year over 26,000 vulnerable people across Rugby used the lifeline, which relied on a team of 50 volunteers giving more than 50,000 hours of their time.

And although there are no plans to reduce funding to the service, campaigners are urging Warwickshire County Council to protect it from cuts - and save those who rely on the service from isolation, depression and chronic ill-health, .

Wendy Busfield, who has used the service for around eight years, said that many people would be left unable to carry out basic tasks without it.

“Because of where I live and the fact I have arthritis the service is vital. There is no way I could do the weekly shopping for my husband and me without it and I know plenty of people whose lives would be equally disrupted if it was to shut.

She added: “The service is also one of the tangible things we get back from the council tax we pay because some of the roads and pavements around my home are in a terrible state.”

Karen Handcock, volunteer centre manager for Rugby-based Warwickshire Community and Voluntary Action, described the usage figures for the service as ‘astonishing’.

“The consequences of losing this service could be drastic - especially if these vulnerable people can’t make it to the shops to buy food, potentially leading to more hospitalizations and higher costs to the taxpayer.”

She added: “We hear a lot these days about the ‘Big Society’ and how we should form stronger communities and help one another out.

“But the costs of running this service - and many others like it - are minuscule when you compare it to the alternative services.

“Our service is made possible by the invaluable services of a band of dedicated volunteers who drive their cars and the Volunteer Centre’s minibuses and give their free time to make this possible.”