Mopeds offered to 'isolated' people
A MOPED-LOANING scheme is set to be introduced for the first time throughout Suffolk in an innovative bid to tackle the problem of rural isolation.Residents living in some of the county's most remote areas are set to be offered the chance to borrow the 50cc vehicles for six-month periods.
A MOPED-LOANING scheme is set to be introduced for the first time throughout Suffolk in an innovative bid to tackle the problem of rural isolation.
Residents living in some of the county's most remote areas are set to be offered the chance to borrow the 50cc vehicles for six-month periods.
With a top speed of 30mph, they are intended to help people aged between 16 and 65 carry out their everyday needs, while opening up new career and education opportunities.
The £64,000 project, jointly funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Learning and Skills Council, will see 24 mopeds offered by rural campaign group Suffolk Acre.
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Gordon Mellor, co-ordinator of the project, called Kickstart, said: “Suffolk is such a big county and there are so many areas that are inadequately covered by public transport. There are some services but not enough to help some people.
“There are an incredibly large number who are being prejudiced against by the lack of a public transport facility. This will open up a lot of doors for them.”
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Mr Mellor said the mopeds will be handed out depending on the greatest need.
“Our view is that it's just as important that someone who is 34 with three children has access to transport to someone who is 17 and has just left college,” he said.
“If someone has access to a bus every 30 minutes they are likely to be viewed less favourably than someone who hasn't. We would like to think they will be distributed evenly around the county but it depends on individual needs.”
Those receiving a moped will also be given insurance, road tax, an MOT, crash helmet, gloves and a lock. They will also be put through a Compulsory Bike Training Course.
In turn, the user will need their own full or provisional driving licence, be expected to buy petrol for the moped and pay £8 per week towards maintenance costs.
Declan Walsh, 18, of Reeve Close, Ixworth, is the first person in Suffolk to benefit from the new scheme.
He took delivery of his moped on Saturday and uses it to drive to Bury St Edmunds train station, before continuing his journey via rail to Cambridge to do a mechanical course.
He said: “I wouldn't be able to do it without the moped, I don't think. My mum has to go to work so I couldn't get a lift off her and the buses aren't that regular at that time of day.
“I think it's a brilliant idea and it really helps. All the bikes are in really good condition and, if anything goes wrong, they sort it out.”
Although it is the first time such a project has been carried out across Suffolk, smaller pilot schemes have taken place in the county in the past. These folded due to funding issues but the latest project is financially secured until March 2008.
There are a number of other similar projects in operation around the country, with the biggest in Norfolk, where more than 200 mopeds are loaned out.
For more information about Kickstart, call Gordon Mellor on 01473 242500.