Suffolk: Rural transport groups urged to join collective

Community transport in Felixstowe

Community transport in Felixstowe - Credit: Archant

A pioneering umbrella group representing community transport operators across Suffolk is urging more organisations to join.

Suffolk Community Transport (SCT) was launched last year to support the county’s 19 individual operators, including those in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket, Haverhill, Sudbury, Hadleigh, Woodbridge and Stowmarket.

It is the first organisation of its kind in the UK to be set up with funding from the Department for Transport. The group has set out a three-year strategy aimed at significantly improving the quality and range of community transport services available in Suffolk. The strategy will also help to improve the sustainability of services by sharing expertise.

But, according to SCT’s chief exective Yvonne Chappell, several community transport groups operating in the county have yet to join the organisation and are “missing out” on a range of benefits available to them.

She said: “The services provided by the community transport groups are so important to Suffolk, which is largely rural with social isolation for many residents.

“We have recently issued more than 700 driver handbooks to organisations across the county, covering topics from legal issues to practical advice. We have also provided access to marketing services, which has allowed the groups to raise their profile and attract volunteers. Over the next 18 months we will be focusing on the quality of support we are providing, and we plan to invest heavily in new training facilities.”

David Cask of Halesworth Area Community Transport, said: “Being part of SCT has also enabled us to communicate with the Department for Transport via the SCT board.”

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Visit www.suffolkcommunity for details.