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									      Exploring the Potential of
Voluntary and Community Transport in
               Norfolk

      A Strategy for the Future

       DRAFT @ 28 June 2001




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Contents
Chapter 1 – Introduction                    Page 3

Chapter 2 – The Local Context               Page 4

Chapter 3 – Current Provision               Pages 5- 11

Chapter 4 – Policy Background               Pages 12- 14

Chapter 5 – A Strategy for the Future

   Co-ordination and Integration           Pages 15 - 16
   Community Buses and Flexible Feeders    Pages 18 - 21
   Brokerage                               Pages 21- 22
   Dial-A-Ride                             Pages 22 - 23
   Community Car Schemes                   Pages 23 - 24
   Independent Schemes                     Pages 24 - 25
   Fares                                   Pages 25 - 26
   Marketing and Publicity                 Page 26
   Training                                Pages 26 - 27
   Resources                               Pages 27 - 31

Chapter 6 – Funding and Lead Partners       Pages 32 - 34

Chapter 7 – Conclusion                      Page 35

Useful Contacts                             Pages 36 - 37




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1. Introduction
This document outlines a strategy for the future development of the
Community and Voluntary Transport Sectors in Norfolk and highlights the
importance of the sector in the Council‟s future plans for the development of
passenger transport generally in Norfolk.

Voluntary and community transport is no longer an area of service provision
that should be marginalised or regarded only as a special type of transport for
the elderly or people with mobility needs. It is now recognised that
conventional big bus services are not always the most appropriate solution to
a transport problem, particularly in rural Norfolk. In this respect the strategy
has been written as a forward thinking document that promotes a move away
from the way that passenger transport needs have traditionally been met.

Voluntary and community transport is a response to the transport needs of
individuals or groups not met by private, statutory or conventional (scheduled)
public transport services. In this context, voluntary and community transport
could also be termed unconventional transport. It may serve the general
public or a particular group within society; the organisation providing the
service may be made up of solely volunteers or a combination of volunteers
and paid staff and they may vary in size from one or two vehicles up to fifty
vehicles or more.

By definition therefore, all voluntary transport is community transport but not
all community transport is purely voluntary transport. Typically, in this
category one would include Community Car schemes, Community Buses,
Dial-A-Ride and group hire facilities. These services could be provided by an
organisation owning their own vehicles, or by hiring them in from other
organisations under the principle known as „brokerage‟.

Voluntary and community transport is often organised by committee. One of
the benefits of this is that it is locally led and there is an empathy with the
needs of the community, often including user representation. One of the
disadvantages presented by this particular approach however is the time
taken to develop projects due to more complex working relationships.

The Strategy outlines the Council‟s commitment to expansion and support of
the services that are provided by the sector with funding from the Council, and
further improving the quality of those services. It also aims to set out how the
Council will help deliver a cohesive, integrated and realistic, locally based
approach to development of the Community and Voluntary transport network.
This will help to deliver access improvements and social inclusion for Norfolk‟s
residents via the provision of a wide range of different transport services that
complement the conventional passenger transport network.




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2. The Local Context
In Norfolk there are particular challenges in providing an efficient and effective
passenger transport network. Norfolk is a fairly sparsely populated county of
some 796,500 population, the majority of whom live in rural areas. 38 per
cent of the population live in the major built up areas of Norwich, Great
Yarmouth and King‟s Lynn. While these urban areas have rural catchment
areas, much of the remaining rural area has a very dispersed pattern of
market towns and villages. Another 20 per cent live in parishes of under
1,000 population; 20 per cent of these are in parishes with less than 300.

However, there is a significant travel demand generated by this dispersed
population, particularly for access to the main towns for services and
shopping. Demographic trends relating to how people shop in Norfolk include
the increasing use of large supermarkets both in and out of town and, not
surprisingly, the loss of village shops. The dispersed rural population and its
reliance on private cars also causes significant social deprivation.
Approximately 20% of households in the rural part of the county do not have
access to a car. Furthermore rural families spend significantly more on
transport than those in urban areas – at least partially because of the
perceived need for a car in these areas. A car is not a luxury but a necessity.

Norfolk‟s high quality environment and relatively low house prices have led to
some parts of the county being particularly attractive for retirement. Norfolk
has a relatively elderly age profile – compared with England it has more
people aged 45 – 49 and over, and fewer in the younger age groups. Around
20 per cent are aged 65 and over, compared with 16 per cent in England.
The population of older people in Norfolk has been increasing at a rate above
the national average. In particular there has been a higher than national
average growth in those aged 85 and over. The high proportion of older
people within the County – particularly in coastal and rural areas – has
significant transport implications. At some stage many older people will no
longer wish, or be able, to drive. They are then reliant on public transport
services but may never have used a bus before in their life.

Norfolk is a county characterised by dispersed villages and hamlets. The only
bus stop in the village could easily be a mile away or more from many of the
houses which are classed as being within that village. The door to door
aspects of voluntary and community transport, and the linkages with main
road bus services and rail services become particularly important.

The role of these types of services is given high priority in the Rural White
Paper and the Council recognises that this is the way forward in Norfolk.
Large vehicles, travelling long circuitous routes with few passengers on board
are not sustainable. A shift in emphasis and the recognition of the vital role
that voluntary and community transport schemes have in delivering passenger
transport in a different way is crucial to the future vitality of Norfolk.




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3. Current Provision
Community and Voluntary Transport may be defined as „local passenger
transport provision which is not provided through scheduled bus or rail
services, and which is organised on a non profit making basis by voluntary
organisations, community transport groups, and other non-statutory bodies‟
(DETR 1999).

The Rural White Paper (November 2000) simply defines community transport
as services run on a „not for profit‟ basis.

It is an important element of passenger transport and for tackling the reality of
living in rural Norfolk. However, it is a disparate and fragmented sector, with a
variety of funding sources and organisational structures.

We know of at least one hundred organisations in Norfolk providing voluntary
and/or community transport services for the residents of Norfolk. There are
likely to be many more – these are the groups that have agreed to register on
the countywide Norfolk Voluntary Transport (NVT) Database compiled by
Norwich & Norfolk Voluntary Services.

A brief description of Community and Voluntary Transport Schemes in Norfolk
that are already supported by the County Council is set out below :

 The Rural Bus Challenge (1998) Flexible Feeder Project
Four vehicles were purchased, two fourteen seat Mercedes Sprinters and two
eight seat Renault Masters. Norfolk County Council owns the vehicles and is
the lead partner in the project. The operational element of the services has
been contracted out to a bus company, two taxi firms and a community
transport group.

Wymondham Area Flexi-Bus
A 14 seat Mercedes is used in the Wymondham area, providing off peak
journeys to Wymondham so people can make onward journeys by bus to
Norwich or by rail to destinations further afield. A different group of rural
villages are served each weekday. The contract for operating the service was
awarded to Olivers Taxis and it operates on a Dial-A-Ride basis.

Downham Market RuralLinks
The second Mercedes is used in the Downham Market area, providing an all
day service from rural villages to Downham Market, providing links with the
rail service. The contract for operating the service was awarded to Norfolk
Green and it operates to a fixed timetable as a conventional local bus service.

North Walsham Area Flexi-Bus
A Renault has been deployed in the North Walsham area, providing an all day
link service to North Walsham station and town. The same group of villages
are served every day (unlike the Wymondham service). The service is



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managed by North Walsham Area Community Transport Association and it
operates on a Dial-A-Ride basis.

Swaffham RuralLinks
The second Renault is used in the Swaffham area, providing a journey to
work service between Watton and Swaffham each week day, a daily service
linking villages to the X94 service at Fransham for onward connections to
Norwich and Swaffham and a village service to bring people in to Necton
surgery. This service is managed by Dereham Taxis and some routes
operate as a conventional local bus and others are Dial-A-Ride.

For each service, the contract for operating the service is between the County
Council and the local taxi/bus company or community transport group.
Successful Rural Transport Partnership (RTP) funding bids were written by
the Council for each Flexible Feeder project, with the balance of the revenue
funding secured by the Council from a variety of funding partners including
many of the District Councils. Where fares revenue is below projected levels
the Council is currently making up the shortfall but this is being regularly
monitored and is under review.

 Community Buses
There are currently four long standing schemes in Norfolk. There were five
schemes until June 2001, when the Sharrington Community Bus became part
of the North Norfolk Community Transport Partnership and the scheduled bus
routes are now operated as Dial-A-Ride. (Sharrington was the first
Community Bus scheme to be set up in the country under the RUTEX
experiments). All five vehicles remain in the ownership of Norfolk County
Council however, and there is a duty and responsibility on the Council to
ensure that they are deployed effectively.

The four remaining Community Bus schemes use volunteer drivers to provide
timetabled local services for the general public under Section 22 permit
legislation, with either a 14 or 16 seat minibus and management by a
community bus committee. The vehicles are also available for hire by local
organisations. The County Council takes responsibility for vehicle
procurement and seeks to provide technical support wherever required to the
volunteer committees. The four schemes are based in Denton & Alburgh,
Docking, Aldborough and Wells. They were set up during the years between
1975 and 1985 and map 1 illustrates the geographical coverage of the
Community Bus schemes.

Norfolk‟s Community Buses provide services in areas where, when they were
set up, there were few supported or commercial bus services. Today,
however, there are very few villages or hamlets with no service other than the
Community Bus. Most villages have a choice of service on more than one
day of the week, although some of these services may be school journeys.
Each village served by a Community Bus was researched to establish
comparable provision of conventional bus services. There were found to be in
excess of fifty bus routes that covered at least some of the same villages as
the Community Buses, albeit on different days and at different times. This is


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partly due to the influx of new bus services provided using Rural Bus Subsidy
Grant funding.

The Community Bus schemes are managed as a simple partnership between
the County Council and the volunteers. A review of the services that they
provide could identify potential new areas of work for the vehicles, such as the
delivery of additional flexible feeder routes.

 West Norfolk Community Transport Project (WNCTP)
WNCTP is a unique transport group within Norfolk because it is in effect, a
mini Passenger Transport Unit, but operating at arms length from the County
Council. It is the biggest single provider of community transport in the county.
It is a Company Limited by Guarantee, a registered charity and has an annual
turnover of nearly £300,000 (2000/2001). This is commensurate with a
medium sized business. WNCTP was officially launched in December 1992
with one vehicle; the intervening eight years has seen the number of vehicles
increase to fifteen. The County Council (Social Services Department) has
been involved with WNCTP from its inception. PTU involvement (Planning
and Transportation Department) has been relatively recent.

WNCTP takes responsibility for organising Social Services transport for the
Western District on behalf of the County Council, via a Service Level
Agreement with Social Services. This includes organising statutory transport
provision to day care services utilising County Council owned minibuses
which are based in the local area, Social Services car scheme drivers and
taxis. The Project also has a number of contracts with the County Council‟s
Education Department (via the Passenger Transport Unit) and Age Concern.

When the vehicles are not being used to fulfil contractual obligations they are
used to provide Dial-A-Bus services in both rural and urban areas, Medibus or
group hire services. Twenty four regular Dial-A-Ride journeys are provided in
to local market towns transporting an average of 350 people per week. Medi-
Bus journeys are provided to Heacham and Grimston group practices and it is
hoped to start a service to Boughton surgery soon. This is in addition to the
healthcare transport being provided by the Swaffham Transport Project. Over
eighty organisations are now registered with WNCTP to use their services and
these services can be provided at an affordable cost because of the
innovative way that the transport is organised. Other vehicles are also
brokered by the Project from other local organisations so that the maximum
number of services can be provided. WNCTP also has its own MIDAS driver
assessor trainer which ensures that new drivers are trained to a good
standard. Providing driver training for other groups also provides a useful
source of income. Officers from Social Services, Norfolk County Services
(Fleet Management) and the PTU are represented on the WNCTP committee.

WNCTP is held up as an example of good practice in the field of community
transport. Support and advice provided by the project has been critical to the
positive development of the Swaffham Transport Project.




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A similar progression has occurred in the Downham Market area as the
Downham Market Minibus committee disbanded in January 2001 and
bequeathed their vehicle and residual funding to WNCTP. Part-funding has
been secured via the West Norfolk and Breckland Rural Transport Partnership
for a Development Worker in the Downham Market area and the Downham
Market Minibus is to be replaced with a new vehicle. These are all exciting
developments and opportunities but they also bring new challenges with
respect to staff management time and the provision of match funding to lever
in monies from the Countryside Agency.

WNCTP have also taken the lead role in the delivery of a mobile Shopmobility
project based on market towns within the Borough Council of King‟s Lynn and
West Norfolk. The mobile unit is towed by a minibus which visits market
towns and then offers a Dial-A-Bus service to bring rural passengers in to the
town so that they can borrow the Shopmobility scooters and wheelchairs. The
County Council is not currently a partner in this project.

Core funding for WNCTP is provided by the Borough Council of King‟s Lynn
and West Norfolk, the Health Authority and NCC Social Services with some
additional one off funding for specific projects provided by the Countryside
Agency. The PTU will be providing core funding for WNCTP for the first time
in 2001/2002 to the sum of £25,000 which is a significant development.

 Swaffham Transport Project
The Swaffham Transport Project (STP) is a satellite of WNCTP and was set
up with project funding specific to that particular geographical area. Over 550
users are registered with the Project. Although the STP has its own local sub-
committee they act in an advisory capacity only as the project is part of
WNCTP and WNCTP trustees have responsibility for the activities of the STP.
The STP provides Dial-A-Bus journeys to Swaffham and King‟s Lynn for the
rural parishes surrounding Swaffham and the town itself, using vehicle
resources that are owned by WNCTP and part-time paid drivers. Pilot Medi-
Bus journeys have been operating in the Swaffham area and new Dial-A-Bus
journeys to Fakenham and Dereham, pending a partnership with the British
Red Cross. Private hires are arranged for approximately thirty different
registered user groups by brokering vehicles owned by other organisations,
including Hammonds High School.

 North Walsham Area Community Transport Association (NWACTA)
NWACTA is a Company Limited by Guarantee and registered charity. It does
not own any minibuses of its own but hires in or „brokers‟ four vehicles owned
by other groups to provide Dial-A-Ride journeys. It operates four Dial-A-Ride
corridors using three volunteer drivers and patronage is steadily growing.
There are approximately 100 registered users of the scheme. The scheme
now has its own MIDAS driver assessor and can sell this service to other local
groups. It also provides a Medi-Bus service to local doctor‟s surgeries six
days per week. NWACTA is the managing agent for the North Walsham area
Flexi-Bus (Flexible Feeder) and may take on a similar role for the Kickstart
moped loan scheme in the future. It employs one full time co-ordinator.



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 Age Concern Sheringham & District Dial-A-Ride
Age Concern Sheringham & District provide a Dial-A-Ride service four days
per week in the Sheringham, Holt and Cromer area during off peak times.
The service is very flexible and will provide a service from any village on any
day, within reasonable limits. Two part-time drivers and a part-time paid co-
ordinator are employed to provide the service. 240 users are registered to
use Dial-A-Ride. The service is provided using a minibus purchased by the
organisation for that specific purpose. At peak times (Monday to Friday) the
vehicle is used to bring people in to the Day Centre in Sheringham. During
evenings and week-ends the bus is hired to groups for outings and fifty
groups are currently registered for this facility. Age Concern Sheringham &
District took delivery of a second vehicle in July 2001.

It should be noted that both Age Concern Fakenham and Age Concern North
Norfolk East (based in North Walsham) also provide Dial-A-Ride shopping
trips in their respective local areas, without any funding from the PTU. This is
just one example of where there is an inequality of funding.

 North Norfolk Community Transport Partnership
Age Concern Sheringham & District is the lead partner in the North Norfolk
Community Transport Partnership brokerage scheme, the first project to
receive funding from the East Norfolk Rural Transport Partnership. The area
of operation extends to 120 parishes and the project addresses the transport
needs of people of all ages. Twelve vehicles have been identified within the
area, including three County Council-owned Community Buses. These are to
be brought in to the brokerage pool and used for Dial-A-Ride, group hire and,
potentially, contract work in the future. The Partnership has also taken on the
management of the Sheringham Hospital Car Service and employs one part-
time co-ordinator.

 Thetford Door to Door
This is a Dial-A-Ride service on two days per week, organised by Age
Concern Thetford and District utilising a Social Services owned vehicle and
paid driver who is employed by Norfolk County Services. It operates at off
peak times between morning and afternoon Day Centre commitments. Rural
villages are served and passengers are brought in to Thetford for shopping.
70 people are registered users of the Door to Door service.

 Norwich Door to Door
This is a fully accessible Dial-A-Ride minibus service, utilising three dedicated
vehicles. It has been operating in the Norwich city area for over eight years.
Norwich Door to Door is registered as an Industrial & Provident Society and a
registered charity. The scheme covers the Norwich city area, extending to
surrounding parishes within Broadland and South Norfolk District.
The scheme has 525 registered members and a waiting list. 20% of these
individual users are in wheelchairs. Goods in kind are provided by Social
Services in the form of accommodation at the Vauxhall Centre.




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Growth of the organisation (facilitated by the award of the Lottery Grant) has
created additional costs in the form of a requirement for Health & Safety policy
(due to an increase in the number of staff) and for a review of the current IT
equipment. The project employs six part time staff and is supported by four
drivers, four escorts and two admin officers who are all volunteers.

 Centre 81
Centre 81 is a Company Limited by Guarantee and the Door to Door bus
service is only one small part of the broad range of services that are provided
via Centre 81. Door to Door is a fully accessible Dial-a-Ride service serving
the whole Borough Council of Great Yarmouth area. It is for elderly and
disabled people who cannot use existing public transport. The service
operates on four week days using three vehicles that are sub-contracted from
Centre 81. Two part-time paid drivers and one volunteer driver provide the
service, together with a full time Manager of Centre 81, who also manages the
transport. National Lottery funding to the sum of £80,000 was approved in
January 2000 towards the capital costs of two replacement vehicles. Further
funding needs to be raised to replace the third vehicle. The scheme has 175
registered users.

 CarLink
This is a co-ordinated community car service, extending to virtually the whole
of Norfolk. The CarLink office (based at NNVS, Charing Cross Norwich)
matches up requests for transport from passengers with available volunteer
drivers using sophisticated software, developed by their own staff. The main
costs are associated with administration (office overhead, staff and IT
equipment). The total mileage costs paid to the driver are met by the
passenger. CarLink can be used for any type of journey.

 Community Car Schemes
Within Norfolk, there are a wide range of car schemes within operation, all
charging the passenger different amounts and paying drivers different
amounts, according to the policies of the body which set them up and the
funding that is available from those bodies. Historically, the District Councils
in Norfolk have been proactive and set up a number of car schemes in
partnership with Parish Councils. The County Council currently financially
supports four Parish based Community Car schemes at Bawburgh, Sporle,
Necton and Castle Acre. Payments are made retrospectively, based on
actual „dead mileage‟ incurred. It is for this reason that the County Council
has, in the past, capped the amount of money that it will give per scheme.
This criteria for support needs to be reviewed and this is included as one of
the recommendations (Action CC3).

Map 2 illustrates geographical coverage of Community Car schemes.
The Rural White Paper focuses on a number of car based initiatives such as
pilot „car-clubs‟ and car sharing, particularly in the context of Parish
Partnerships and this is therefore likely to be an issue in which local
authorities are going to need to become more involved.




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The general SWOT analysis of existing provision (Appendix 1) confirms that
the situation in Norfolk with respect to voluntary and community transport is
very similar to that detailed in the Steer Davies Gleeve Voluntary Transport
report produced for the DETR in 1999.

Within Norfolk there is growth in the development of flexible services such as
dial-a-ride or taxibus and co-ordination or brokerage schemes. Lack of
volunteers is a major issue for virtually all schemes. For this reason new
schemes set up with County Council advice and support are encouraged to
budget for some paid staff. Few schemes are at full capacity but there is an
understandable reluctance by small schemes, especially voluntary car
schemes, to widely promote themselves for fear of being overwhelmed,
particularly by passengers requiring transport for health related journeys
including hospital appointments. Most schemes take bookings by telephone
and some of the more established and bigger schemes e.g. WNCTP and
CarLink have contracts with the County Council and the Norfolk & Norwich
Health Care NHS Trust respectively.

Patronage of schemes is predominantly by the older age group (although this
is not always an eligibility criterion) which suggests an „image problem‟.

All voluntary transport schemes in Norfolk would, without doubt, welcome a
more stable funding regime. Ongoing revenue funding and funding for vehicle
replacement is a major problem for most voluntary transport schemes.




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4. Policy Background
A Strategy for future development clearly has to take in to account what can
and cannot be achieved within the legislative and policy framework. As the
statutory transport and strategic planning authority for Norfolk the County
Council must produce a Structure Plan which provides a strategic policy
framework for local planning and development control which is consistent with
national and regional policy. The Norfolk Structure Plan (1999) includes a
chapter on transport and Policy T.5 (viii) on page 42 specifies supporting the
development of community and other innovative approaches to transport to
complement local bus and rail, especially in rural areas.

The Local Transport Plan is the next tier within the policy hierarchy which
sets out how the Council intends to manage and develop all aspects of
transport and bids for money to fulfil its aspirations. Norfolk‟s Local Transport
Plan 2001/02 – 2005/06 identifies fully accessible feeder services as a main
priority within the chapter on public transport and how these may be provided
using the voluntary and community sector. It specifically states the
requirement for development of such services within the south and east of the
county. The Norfolk Coast Transport Strategy (June 1998) supports the Local
Transport Plan.

The 1985 Transport Act states in law (and is endorsed by the 2000 Transport
Act) that the strategic responsibility for providing public passenger transport is
a County Council function. Section 63 (1) makes it clear that in each non-
metropolitan county council of England and Wales it shall be the duty of the
County Council :

(a) To secure the provision of such public passenger transport services as
    the council consider it appropriate to secure to meet any public transport
    requirements within the county which would not in their view be met apart
    from any action taken by them for that purpose; and
(b) To formulate from time to time general policies as to the description of
    services they proposed to secure under paragraph (a) above.

These general policies referred to in (b) are embodied in the County Council‟s
Passenger Transport Policies that form the overarching strategic vision.

In 1999 a new Passenger Transport Unit (PTU) was set up within the
Planning and Transportation Department. Its remit, which includes schools
and social services public transport, allows it to integrate and develop
passenger transport for Norfolk in a better way than previously, and to deliver
statutory transport functions more effectively. When formulating policies with
respect to the descriptions of services they propose to secure, a Council shall
have regard to any of their functions as a local education authority, or social
services functions. This is now particularly relevant to Norfolk County Council
with the formulation of the Passenger Transport Unit and is reflected in the
Passenger Transport Policy document.




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The PTU‟s Voluntary and Community Transport Policies have been directly
linked to the proposed actions that are set out in chapter 5 of the Strategy.

The Voluntary and Community Transport Strategy is the final tier in the
policy hierarchy as it sets out how the Policies will be delivered, and is one of
several Passenger Transport Strategies including Rail, Bus, Infrastructure and
Information.

The Voluntary and Community Transport Strategy will be heavily based on
partnership, and clearly must take account of the policies of other agencies
and departments.

Within the County Council, the Social Services Prevention Plan (Adults) 1999
– 2002 recognises that transport can be a preventative service provision.

The Norfolk Rural Development Programme Operating Plan (2000 – 2003)
identifies inadequate access to facilities and services by public and
community transport as a current issue.

The County Council‟s Best Value Performance Review of County Council
relationships with the voluntary sector (2001) was a cross cutting review that
made a number of clear recommendations. These have been translated in to
proposed actions under the theme of Resources within chapter 5 of the
Strategy.

Rural Transport Partnerships (RTP‟s) are a Countryside Agency led
programme of funding via DETR for locally identified solutions to transport
issues in rural areas. The fund criteria widened from May 2001, bringing
significant opportunities for the development of transport projects in rural
Norfolk. The East Norfolk and the West Norfolk & Breckland Rural Transport
Partnership Action Plans set out the local context in terms of policies affecting
rural transport, and a detailed list of transport projects for implementation.
Some of the projects are joint countywide initiatives and others are specifically
local. The Action Plans are not a statutory document but have been written on
the basis of mutual trust and goodwill and are an important tool in the delivery
of Voluntary and Community Transport in the rural areas.

Many of the District Councils relate their aspirations for improved voluntary
and community transport provision to their Local Plans, and any corporate
statements or other relevant departmental plans/strategies e.g. Community
Plans, Rural Strategies and local Health Improvement Plans.

The Health Improvement Programme (HImP) Technical document March
2000 – March 2002 is the strategic plan for improving health and healthcare
services and tackling health inequalities in Norfolk. The document identifies
access to high quality services as a factor affecting our health and feeling of
well-being and identifies integration and addressing social exclusion as
strategic priorities.




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Proposals contained within the Rural White Paper (November 2000) give a
very positive message to the voluntary and community transport sector in
rural areas. There are a number of themes that are inherent within the Paper:

   The need for better co-ordination of existing services, services do not
    always have to be new to gain support
   Working with communities at a very local level
   A focus on market towns
   The merits of demand responsive, flexible services
   Recognition of the role of the car and mopeds, with particular reference to
    access to employment and training

Community and voluntary transport is highlighted as having a key role in
catering for needs that are difficult to meet through scheduled commercial
services. The Paper states „We want to see its expansion, and its greater
integration with commercial services in rural areas‟, as well as „The need to
ensure that the quality of service, driver professionalism and safety standards
are maintained, and improved where necessary as the sector expands‟.

These government aspirations have all been reflected within the Strategy.




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5. A strategy for the future
This chapter outlines the links between the relevant Passenger Transport
Policies (already approved and adopted by Norfolk County Council) and the
actions that the Council should seek to take in the future to deliver new and
improved services, in partnership with the voluntary and community transport
sector and its funders.

CO-ORDINATION AND INTEGRATION

One way in which resources can be maximised is by ensuring, wherever
possible, that journeys for different purposes are combined to avoid the need
for several journeys to be made. This was one of the main reasons for the
creation of the Passenger Transport Unit - to integrate education, social
services and public transport provision.

We will identify opportunities to integrate voluntary and community transport
with conventional public transport, social services, education and non-
emergency patient transport. This latter element can be pursued under the
guidance of the Health Improvement Programme‟s Access theme.

Two strategic priorities relating to transport have been identified within the
HimP for action :

   1) Integrate transport with policies for education, health and wealth
      creation, to make a fairer, more inclusive society.

The lead partner is Norfolk County Council and an Integrated Transport
Steering Group has been set up to deliver this priority, chaired by the Head of
the PTU.

   2) To address social exclusion in rural areas by developing additional
      transport facilities which have been identified as projects in action
      plans, developed by local partnerships. The lead partner is the Rural
      Transport Partnerships.

The Primary Care Groups/Trust have been given a target to “Identify the
health related transport needs in conjunction with the Rural Transport
Partnerships and actively contribute to solutions which can demonstrate
tangible improvements to access by March 2002.”

Action CI1

An innovative pilot project is already being developed in partnership
with the Health Authority and others to trial joint working, using the
opportunities afforded by the Health Act 1999, and to fulfil the access
objectives of the HiMP.



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The pilot project will initially focus on the Dereham area, investigating
and developing the concept of a ‘one stop shop’ for booking journeys
and providing a co-ordinated brokerage scheme in partnership with the
health and voluntary sectors. The pilot project is currently being
developed with a view to launching in 2002/2003, subject to successful
funding applications.


Passenger Transport Policy S2 is about investigating ways of further
integrating social services transport with other services, and promoting
schemes that are shown to have benefits to passengers. While in many
instances the requirements of passengers travelling on social services
transport will need to be specifically tailored, there are also opportunities for
integration with conventional buses, education transport or other transport
services. The policy also states that the Council will work with the NHS in
Norfolk and internally to promote the integration of social services and
community, voluntary and health transport.

We will therefore pursue opportunities of co-ordination between Social
Services/Education Department contracts with voluntary and community
transport schemes.

The majority of schemes currently funded by the County Council operate
completely independently of the PTU‟s public transport, social services and
education department‟s transport provision.

Action CI2

We will seek to ensure closer co-ordination of the day to day Officer
support of Council funded voluntary and community transport schemes,
with the delivery and management of Social Services or Education
transport, thus maximising the utilisation of the transport being
provided by both sectors.

Action CI3

We will work actively to develop closer co-ordination with the West
Norfolk Community Transport Project and the mixing of client groups.

Action CI4

All Council funded voluntary and community transport schemes will be
encouraged to view and promote their services as a contribution to
passenger transport services in the area generally.

Passenger Transport Policy CV3 states that the Council will improve the
integration of community and voluntary transport services with other bus and
rail services, and education and social services transport. It recognises that


                                        16
improved co-ordination of community and voluntary transport with other
services is essential, not only in terms of efficiency but also to give users
access to a greater range of services and destinations.

PARTNERSHIPS

The County Council is the only statutory body with a legal obligation to
provide passenger transport in the county, but voluntary and community
services in particular cannot be effectively delivered by the County Council
alone. The expansion of partnerships, and the delivery of the projects and
schemes identified within this strategy, are therefore seen as absolutely
crucial.

The County Council‟s relationship with the Rural Transport Partnerships, the
District Councils, Town & Parish Councils and the Countryside Agency in
particular is fundamental to the delivery of co-ordinated schemes at grass
roots level. We recognise that these agencies have a much greater
understanding of local needs and therefore have a very important role to play.

The Council, in exercising its statutory transport function, is willing to lead, co-
ordinate or merely support the activities and aspirations of other interested
transport enablers to minimise duplication.

Map 3 illustrates where there would appear to be opportunities to co-ordinate
existing schemes and where there are gaps in provision which may be areas
of unmet demand that require exploring.

Action P1

We wish to encourage existing projects to work closely or formally join
with their neighbouring schemes, thus minimising administrative costs.

Resources can be targeted in the following project areas to assess
potential for co-ordination of existing schemes through partnership
working :

   Wymondham Area Flexi-Bus and Attleborough Area Community
    Transport
   Swaffham RuralLinks and Swaffham Transport Project and
    Integrated Transport Pilot Project in Breckland
   NWACTA & NNCTP
   NWACTA & Centre 81
   NNCTP & WNCTP




                                        17
Action P2

We will look to target resources in to the following ‘new’ schemes,
where the need for a service has been identified by working in
partnership :

   Attleborough Area Community Transport Scheme
   North Norfolk Community Transport Partnership
   Wayland Transport Partnership
   Diss, Harleston and Eye Community Transport
   Pilot car club/car sharing project in the Broad Abbey area
   "Bitternlink" feeder links into North Walsham Railway Station
   "Leisure and Learning" evening shared taxibus services in South and
    West Norfolk connecting leisure and education centres.
   Thetford based brokerage scheme


Passenger Transport Policy CV7 states that the Council will continue to work
in partnership with the area‟s Rural Transport Partnership officers to assist in
meeting countywide and local objectives, and maximise funding. It concludes
that the creation of two Rural Transport Partnership officer posts in Norfolk
was a significant boost to community and voluntary transport. The Council
will seek to maintain an overview position and co-ordinate the work being
undertaken by different bodies to achieve the greatest possible contribution to
county and local objectives, and maximise funding.

COMMUNITY BUSES AND FLEXIBLE FEEDERS

The Community Bus schemes have evolved over a considerable period of
time, and each scheme has become its own unique service with little input
from the County Council other than provision of the vehicle. The services
need to be reviewed but we recognise that in a situation of „no change‟ for
several decades, any proposals for new services could be controversial. The
volunteer drivers are dedicated to the passengers and the service is very
customer focussed. This is a very positive feature of the Community Bus
schemes and the good will of all the volunteers needs to be retained as part of
any new style of operation.

Action CB1

We will seek to provide more strategic direction for the Community Bus
services. In conjunction with the Community Bus Committees we will
review usage and costs of the services that they provide, and discuss
options for their future development by April 2002.




                                       18
Action CB2

We will seek to place additional Education and/or Social Services
contracts on the Community Buses and Flexible Feeder vehicles that are
owned by the Council.

Action CB3

We will investigate whether there is potential to utilise the Community
Buses to provide feeder link services to main, trunk bus and rail routes,
in partnership with voluntary and community transport operators (see
Action FF1 for detail)

Passenger Transport Policy CV6 states that the Council will review operation
of existing Community Bus schemes and make recommendations to improve
utilisation of the vehicles.

The Council particularly recognises the long standing input and value of the
key stakeholders and will ensure that volunteer drivers/committee members
and passengers are fully involved in the review.

FLEXIBLE FEEDERS

Flexible feeders are a more recent innovation, using a mix of community and
commercial management structures to provide both dial-a-ride and scheduled
services. In some aspects, they have similarities with the Community Bus
network but do not suffer from the problems of a reducing volunteer base.

Action FF1

The Council has identified flexible feeder interchange points, based on
the parish accessibility criteria as outlined in the Local Transport Plan,
to feed into principal bus and rail routes. Subject to funding, the
provision of these new Flexible Feeder services will be pursued at a rate
of two per year, commencing April 2002, utilising the Community Buses
initially.

Future expansion of the flexible feeder network

Following the appraisal of the four pilot services described on pages 5 & 6,
the emerging network of principal trunk bus and rail routes that operate on a
half hourly or hourly frequency have been plotted on map 4. This has
informed the identification of potential flexible feeder interchange
opportunities, shown on the map as red dots. The map clearly demonstrates
the current focus of services on Norwich.

It may be possible to deliver more than one flexible feeder service using only
one vehicle – resources can be shared and the vehicles can move around. A
particular area which this could be piloted is in the Long Stratton, Harleston,



                                      19
Woodton triangle where villages in the rural hinterland between them may
want to connect on to any of the three main trunk services identified above.

It is recognised that delivery of these feeder services will be dependent upon :

a) provision of revenue and/or capital funding,
b) availability and willingness of voluntary or community transport groups or
   commercial firms to manage the service, and
c) relative stability of the bus network with which it is proposed to connect.

Success of the services will require the availability of a safe and comfortable
connection place and the availability of through ticketing, both of which are in
theory easy to achieve but in practice, prove to be less than straightforward.

It is for these reasons that the introduction of these services need to be
phased in gradually over a three year period, and the precise geographical
areas to be targeted will inevitably require revision in the light of changes to
the commercially operated bus network. It is therefore recommended that this
target list of feeder services is reviewed on an annual basis. It is very difficult
to estimate the revenue costs of providing the services that have been
identified as early priorities because it depends upon the frequency of feeder
service that is to be delivered.

Those feeder services that can potentially be delivered using Community
Buses will be first priority. Vehicle provision is already in place. An effective
means of managing the operation would need to be arranged using any of the
existing Community Bus volunteers that wanted to be involved, together with
an existing or new voluntary or community transport group. If there were no
existing groups in the area that were keen to manage the service, and it was
felt that there was not enough need to justify setting up a new voluntary and
community transport group then prices would be sought from the commercial
sector. Ownership of the Community Buses would remain with the County
Council as per the existing Flexible Feeder vehicles that were purchased with
Rural Bus Subsidy Grant funding.

Feeder services that can be delivered via existing voluntary and community
transport schemes will be second priority, utilising vehicles owned by that
organisation or brokered in from elsewhere.

If the two delivery mechanisms described above prove to be impossible for
practical reasons then consideration will need to be made to providing the
services via a commercial bus or taxi firm via the tendering process.

All the services will be operated using fully accessible vehicles and drivers
would need to be paid.




                                        20
Action FF2

We will seek to develop contractual relationships with the voluntary and
community or commercial sector to deliver efficient Flexible Feeder
services. We will vigorously pursue provision of through ticketing and
interchange facilities with bus and rail operators.

Feeder journeys provided particularly via the not for profit or commercial
sector are central to current government thinking.

Passenger Transport Policy B11 states that the Council will review the
operation of the first Flexible-Feeder services with a view to developing further
feeder services, and review the structure of trunk services in locations where
new feeders become available.

The introduction of a substantial number of new local bus services using Rural
Bus Subsidy Grant has demonstrated the practical limits of the conventional
bus in meeting the needs of passengers in rural areas, with some services
succeeding while others have failed to attract custom or meet local needs.
This has led to a view that the Flexible Feeder style of operation may be a
more effective solution to the challenges of providing transport for the
dispersed settlements of Norfolk.

BROKERAGE

Brokerage arrangements, whereby a central agency co-ordinates community
and voluntary transport services in an area, can help increase efficiency of
operations and provide a better service to users.

Brokerage can be used as a means to deliver Flexible Feeders, Dial-A-Ride,
Medi-Ride, transport for groups (private hire), car schemes and driver training.
They may also be contracted in by the County Council to deliver statutory
transport services such as home to school transport or transport to day
centres. The West Norfolk Community Transport Project is a nationally
acclaimed example of brokerage at its best. It successfully provides a whole
range of transport services with a mix and match of statutory and voluntary
sector owned vehicles, providing a diverse range of services. There are also
successful schemes in operation in the North Walsham and Sheringham
areas. To be successful these schemes need to embrace the need to be
involved in the whole range of passenger transport activities.

The areas given priority are currently under represented in the provision of
voluntary and community transport.




                                       21
Action BR1

We will seek to develop a network of brokerage schemes across the
county, subject to funding, with priority given to the administrative
areas of Norwich City, Breckland Council and South Norfolk Council, at
a rate of one scheme per year.

This will be achieved by setting up initial meetings with interested partners,
seeking funding to research and assess the local need and viability of the
schemes and then putting firm project proposals and funding bids together.

Action BR2

Where a need can be justified, the Council will bid for capital funding for
vehicle purchase via the Local Transport Plan and Rural and Urban Bus
Challenge funds.

Passenger Transport Policy CV5 states that the Council will continue to
support existing brokerage schemes and help create new schemes.


DIAL-A-RIDE

Dial-A-Ride is commonly perceived to be transport for the older generation
only. This is a serious barrier to the success of a feeder service provided at
commuter times, providing a link to a main bus or rail route for example. Dial-
A-Ride is one way to provide demand responsive services and may be
provided via the voluntary and community transport sector or via a privately
owned bus or taxi company.

Action DR1

The Council will work with existing Dial-A-Ride providers and other
potential operators to expand the network of services that complement
existing public transport.

The priority will be to work with voluntary and community transport
schemes that can demonstrate a need for an expansion to their
services, or in response to the withdrawal of a conventional local bus
service.

The County Council has worked with a number of different organisations to
provide Dial-A-Ride services. For example, Thetford Door to Door is
managed by Age Concern Thetford & District using a minibus owned by
Norfolk County Council Social Services in between journeys to a local day
centre. Olivers Taxis provide the Wymondham Area Flexi-Bus services which
are Dial-A-Ride journeys operated under a contractual arrangement with the
County Council. Sharrington Community Bus is used on two days per week



                                       22
by North Norfolk Community Transport Partnership under a brokerage
arrangement to provide Dial-A-Ride services to Holt. Dial-A-Ride services
have to be tailored to meet local needs, using the resources that are
available. There is no blueprint solution that will work everywhere.

Potential New schemes

1. The northern part of Breckland District, perhaps focusing on Dereham
2. The south eastern part of South Norfolk District, perhaps focusing on
   Loddon. This has already been identified as a potential flexible feeder
   location.
3. The south eastern part of North Norfolk District, in the area between
   NWACTA and Centre 81
4. The eastern and western rural hinterland of Broadland, perhaps focusing
   on Reepham and Acle respectively.

Other potential longer term projects that could be developed include

   Great Yarmouth Community Transport Project
   Greater Norwich Area Brokerage scheme


Action DR2

We are hopeful that delivery of additional Dial-A-Ride services will be an
outcome of brokerage schemes. However, we will also consider
working with partners to deliver a separate ‘stand alone’ Dial-A-Ride
service if no other means of delivery can be identified.

Passenger Transport Policy CV4 states that the Council will support and seek
to extend the provision of flexible, pre-bookable Dial-a-Ride, Taxibus or
community car schemes to cater for needs unmet by conventional passenger
transport, that the Council will continue to support existing services where
required and will work to extend services so that they are available throughout
Norfolk.

COMMUNITY CAR SCHEMES

Within Norfolk there are a wide range of car schemes within operation, all
charging the passenger different amounts and paying drivers different
amounts, according to the policies of the body which set them up and the
funding that is available from those bodies.

Action CC1

We will work with service providers and users to harmonise driver
mileage rates and charges to passengers between different
organisations and operators. This will be piloted in the Dereham area
(See Action CI1).



                                      23
Many volunteer car drivers drive for more than one scheme and some of the
passengers will be users of several schemes. Harmonisation of the rates will
undoubtably simplify things for drivers and passengers alike.


Action CC2

We support the concept of Community Car Schemes, and will seek to
extend the operating area of CarLink, in partnership with them, to
include parishes not currently served.

Community Car Schemes are an important part of Norfolk‟s transport
provision, and are particularly helpful for individual passengers who want to
get to appointments at specific times.

Action CC3

We will encourage other existing parish based schemes to work in
partnership with CarLink, to maximise the efficient use of resources.
This could be tackled in partnership with the District Councils, on a
District by District basis.

There are a number of car schemes in operation which are not part of
CarLink. They each have their own co-ordinating arrangements and scheme
management. However, this can lead to duplication and encouraging
schemes to work in partnership with CarLink will allow for a more efficient use
of scarce resources.

Action CC4

We will explore with CarLink the scope for them to undertake the
organisation of ‘one off’ requests for Social Services transport.

CarLink already work with the Norfolk and Norwich Health Care Trust to
provide transport for patients who have been discharged from hospital.
Informal discussions suggest there is considerable scope to develop action
CC4.

INDEPENDENT SCHEMES

Action IS1

We will seek to identify and establish a working relationship with
independent schemes. All known schemes will be contacted during
2001/2002 with a view to making them aware of the Council’s support for
the voluntary and community transport sector and opportunities for
joint working, and inviting them to share in this pooling of knowledge
and co-ordination..


                                      24
There are a significant number of transport Groups/Projects that the County
Council does not have any relationship with at all. Whilst these groups have
an important role to play, there is a risk of overlapping with other schemes in
an area, and of longer term funding problems. Identification of these schemes
is important as it will enable a longer term view to be established of future
needs.

Action IS2

Prior to the development of a new voluntary or community transport
scheme, we will consult with any independent groups identified in the
new project area and seek their involvement. The areas targeted for
development are set out in Actions P1 and P2.

Passenger Transport Policy CV2 states that the Council will seek to work with
all community and voluntary transport providers and users in Norfolk to
maximise the benefits to users of the services they provide. It concludes that
the Council seeks to play a co-ordinating role to maximise the efficiency and
potential benefits of existing operations to the benefit of both operators and
users.

FARES

Action FE1

We will provide bus fares information for contracted services and
recommend that voluntary and community transport fares are set at a
level between local bus and taxi fares.

We will encourage an annual review of fares and membership fees
charged by Voluntary and Community Transport Schemes.

Some Voluntary and Community Transport Projects/Groups charge low fares
which may undercut existing local bus provision, if there is any in the area.
The fares are rarely reviewed on a regular basis. Voluntary and Community
Transport Schemes are not generally registered to accept concessionary
fares which means that passengers are not eligible to use their passes on
those services, thus creating a need to keep fares artificially low.

Action FE2

We will encourage Voluntary and Community Transport Groups
(including Flexible Feeder services) to join the concessionary fares
scheme.

Passenger Transport Policy FT2 states that the County Council will monitor
commercial bus fares on an ongoing basis and Policy FT4 states that the
County Council will review fares charged on subsidised bus services and



                                      25
develop an indicative fare scale. It is recognised that there must be a balance
between covering costs and ensuring that services are affordable. The
indicative fare scale will provide a useful benchmark for voluntary and
community transport schemes, together with actual operating costs.


MARKETING & PUBLICITY

Action M&P1

We will seek the views of Voluntary and Community Transport
Operators, and take a co-ordinating role in forming a marketing and
publicity sub- group (as part of the network of support/operators forum)
to develop good practice.

It is envisaged that it will review the publicity for each voluntary and
community transport scheme, following any good practice guidelines
identified above.

Voluntary and Community Transport Schemes currently produce their own
marketing material and information, in their own styles, which results in a
variety of quality and no common format, focused (albeit unintentionally) on
the older age group.

Action M&P2

We will provide information to the general public about Voluntary and
Community Transport services via its information service.

We will include Voluntary and Community transport schemes on our
county Passenger Transport Map.

Passenger Transport Policy I2 is to provide information on all passenger
transport services, including the voluntary sector. Such information will
include timetables and route planners, in and from Norfolk through various
forms and tailored as far as possible to meet the needs of the individual user.
The key factor in making a journey choice is knowing that a service is
available. Being able to access information in any format is fundamental to
breaking down barriers. At present, the Council is providing virtually no
information on community and voluntary transport services. It will therefore
work with the relevant service providers to enable a complete information
service to be provided.

TRAINING

There is currently inadequate training available to the Voluntary and
Community Transport Sector.




                                      26
Action T1

Together with the Rural Transport Partnerships and the District
Councils, the Council will seek to identify general training needs and set
up a countywide network or operators forum for both rural and urban
voluntary and community transport schemes.

Passenger Transport Policy CV8 states that the Council will work with the
community and voluntary transport services in Norfolk to develop training
schemes for volunteers. This could be achieved by working with the Rural
Transport Partnerships.

Action T2

The Council will seek to set up an eligibility and assessment procedure
to ensure effective and on-going management of volunteer minibus
drivers that are insured by the County Council’s Motor Policy. We
envisage that all Voluntary and Community Transport Schemes should
adopt the MIDAS standard.

Currently, volunteer minibus drivers insured by the County Council are
recruited locally by individual schemes. The County Council recognises that it
needs to work with these schemes to develop a mechanism for ensuring that
drivers details are recorded, that licences are checked regularly and that their
driving skills are kept up to date via a County Council driver training and
assessment programme.

MIDAS is the acronym for Minibus Driver Assessment Scheme which is the
nationally recognised training scheme for minibus drivers, advocated by the
Community Transport Association (CTA). A number of the voluntary and
community transport schemes have their own MIDAS assessor(s) within their
staff or volunteer resources, and these skills could be shared with other
schemes.

There is no „MIDAS equivalent‟ car driver training programme and this is a
project which could be pursued together with the Rural Transport
Partnerships, if it is a need identified by the operators forum.

RESOURCES

The allocation of resources, particularly financial, is a continuing problem for
the Community and Voluntary sector. Although the sector is generally an
efficient user of resources, it is under-resourced and dependant on one off
grants from the Council which are subject to spending limits. This situation is
not sustainable for a vitally important sector of the County's transport
provision.

In return, if the Council is to commit to greater certainty of funding, the
community and voluntary groups will have to demonstrate effective use of the
resources to meet the Government's objectives for the delivery of Best Value.


                                       27
The Council needs to develop fair and transparent resource allocation
processes, and ensure that resources are used to deliver the County's overall
transport strategy and fulfil Passenger Transport Policies. However, this will
be done in a manner that does not put unnecessary or onerous burdens on
community and voluntary groups, or excessively reduces the ability for groups
to manage their own affairs.

The way in which funding is currently allocated to voluntary and community
transport groups (regardless of whether the County Council set them up) is
inconsistent. Central Government funding currently focuses on rural areas
and this is where the majority of new voluntary and community transport
schemes have been developed. The balance needs to be redressed so that
rural and urban voluntary and community transport schemes have equitable
access to Council resources.

Finally, and very importantly, the balance also needs to be redressed between
conventional and unconventional transport. Traditionally the bulk of revenue
support has gone towards conventional local bus services, which are not
necessarily more worthy of funding than voluntary and community transport.
They both fulfil a role and we now recognise that local bus services are not
always going to be the most appropriate answer to a local transport problem.

The following actions are therefore intended to be very positive steps to put
the voluntary and community sector onto an equal footing with conventional
public transport and to deliver a more sustainable and structured approach to
funding.

Action RES1

Voluntary and community transport schemes will be funded by the
Council via the general passenger transport budget, rather than a
separate ‘initiatives’ budget. Common value for money indicators will
apply to both conventional and unconventional passenger transport
services and these will be developed during 2001/2002.

Action RES2

The Council will seek to ensure that any funding provided to the
voluntary and community transport sector from the PTU is co-ordinated
with funding or goods in kind provided by other County Council
departments.

Each Department currently responds individually to request for funding from
the voluntary sector and a corporate approach needs to be adopted. This
recommendation is in accordance with the findings of the Best Value review of
the County Council‟s relationship with the voluntary sector.




                                     28
Action RES3

The Council will develop a funding application procedure to enable and
encourage groups to apply for Council resources.

In order to demonstrate Best Value and effective delivery of Council
objectives, a funding application procedure will be developed along the lines
of the Funding Code of Good Practice. The Code of Practice is a daughter
paper of the national Compact on relations between Government and the
Voluntary & Community Sector in England (November 1998), produced by the
Home Office.

Action RES4

The Council will require that all voluntary and community transport
groups bidding for resources clearly demonstrate how their project will
help to deliver the County Council’s PTU objectives and benefit the end
user.

Action RES5

The Council will require that voluntary and community transport groups
enter in to a simple partnership or service level agreement with them
and will, where practicable, seek to ensure that resource allocation is
provided by us to them on a sustainable basis.

There are also many useful recommendations contained within the Guide to
Good Practice for local authority procurement of local bus and community
transport services, produced by the TAS Partnership in June 1999. These will
be adopted and adapted by the Council and used as a basis to develop
simple yet robust partnership agreements or Service Level Agreements. The
Guide is similar to the Compact in the respect that the main theme is ensuring
that the main factors required to deliver a quality service in partnership with
the voluntary and community transport sector are understood and taken on
board by both parties.

Action RES6

Core funding for major voluntary and community transport schemes will
be negotiated for a period of up to five years, thus bringing the
arrangements in line with conventional bus contracts.

This reflects the shift in emphasis away from a piece meal approach to
funding the sector for project based activity only, and a recognition of the
need for stability and funding to cover core costs of the organisation.




                                       29
Action RES7

The Council’s priority for funding voluntary and community transport
schemes will be those that can demonstrate that they are fulfilling a
locally identified need and are offering a solution that is best value for
money.

Eligibility criteria for funding could include some of the following factors:

   Legally be able to undertake the transport activities concerned
   Be financially viable, submit audited annual accounts and have clear
    financial controls
   Contribute to the delivery of Passenger Transport policies
   Have policies covering employees and volunteers which accord with
    legislation on employment, health & safety, racial & sexual discrimination,
    disability discrimination and equal opportunities
   Have clear and effective management arrangements and procedures
   Have a complaints procedure and involve users of the service
   Have systems for monitoring/evaluating activities against agreed
    objectives
   Undertake driver and escort training to agreed standards

Action RES8

We will seek to introduce an element of monitoring and evaluation as an
integral part of the partnership between the County Council and the
voluntary and community transport group that it funds

We will seek to develop, agree and review appropriate Performance
Measures, in partnership with the sector.

Where practical, it is advocated that voluntary and community transport
groups/projects have one „agreement‟ encompassing all the funding partners
if possible. The net result is that the voluntary and community transport
Group/Project has one agreement with one group of partners, all of whom
have signed up to a common goal. This reduces the need for individual
negotiations and all partners are aware of the commitments of others.

The effectiveness of grants provided by the PTU are not monitored or
evaluated with any consistency and this needs to be addressed. It is
essential that the performance measures are developed in consultation with
the voluntary and community transport sector. Some preliminary ideas are
set out below :

   Comparison of targets with actual outcomes
   Passenger satisfaction surveys
   Transport costs per mile and per passenger
   Administration costs per mile and per passenger
   Success in recruiting and retaining volunteers and/or paid staff


                                        30
   Financial value of volunteer time
   Comparison with cost of providing the service commercially
   Training/Safety policy and procedures
   Local involvement /ownership of project
   Percentage of target passenger group that are being served
   Number of genuine refusals
   Demand for journeys - calls received per hour/week/year
   Time taken to respond to requests
   Waiting lists
   Local authority Officer time/involvement
   Business Plan
   Quality of publicity and information being given to passengers
   Percentage occupancy of vehicle on a given journey

It is recognised that it will be very difficult to come up with a prescriptive set of
Performance Measures as some aspects of the service provided by voluntary
and community transport can only be measured in qualitative terms. Some
form of Performance Measurement is required however, in order to be able to
carry out monitoring and evaluation, which in turn is going to be related to the
funding process. It is therefore very important that voluntary and community
transport groups consider how their own performance can be measured.

Passenger Transport Policy PT11 is a requirement to monitor expenditure and
outputs, through Performance Measures, to ensure best value is being
achieved throughout the passenger transport system.

In detail, the Policy states that the Council will continue to work to maximise
both capital and revenue funds available for passenger transport from both
public and private sector sources. Development of a set of key Performance
Measures will assist the Council in monitoring expenditure and outputs on
passenger transport to ensure best value is achieved.

Passenger Transport Policy B3 is to ensure that systems are in place to
provide operators and the Council with a regular and consistent flow of
information on patronage. Whilst this policy is directed at conventional
transport, it is equally applicable to unconventional modes. Lack of
passenger usage and demand information is a significant barrier to the
delivery of an integrated passenger transport network.




                                         31
6. Funding and lead partners
Within the specific context of voluntary and community transport, a number of
District Councils are very actively involved with community car, Dial-A-Ride
and brokerage schemes in terms of Officer support on management
committees, provision of goods in kind and direct financial support. Every
District apart from Norwich City (because it is an urban Council) financially
supports their respective Rural Transport Partnership (RTP) and is
represented on the relevant RTP Steering Committee, and the Norfolk
countywide RTP Steering Committee. This positive approach to Voluntary
and Community Transport needs to be developed.

To date, there is no working relationship between the City Council and the
County Council with respect to voluntary and community transport. There is
however scope to develop this (subject to funding), and policy T32 iii) of the
City of Norwich Local Plan states that the City Council „will promote public
transport accessibility for disadvantaged groups by investigating the
introduction of Dial-A-Ride schemes for people with accessibility problems‟.

The District Councils have the statutory responsibility for taxi licencing and in
Norfolk, the responsibility for administering the concessionary fares scheme is
also a District function. The role of taxi licencing is particularly relevant in the
context of this Strategy as taxis are becoming an increasingly important part
of the unconventional transport scene as contractors operating flexible
services. District Councils therefore are very important partners.

The 1997 Local Government & Rating Act enables Town and Parish
Councils in England to undertake the following, if they so wish:

1) Conducting surveys to establish local transport needs
2) Providing revenue funding support for section 19 and 22 community
   minibuses being used wholly or mainly for members of the public who are
   elderly or disabled (Capital funding may be provided if the Parish Council
   sees fit)
3) Arrangements with local taxi or hire car companies to offer fare
   concessions to eligible members of the parish
4) Organising and funding car sharing schemes, and
5) Providing information on local transport services.

Some Parish Councils already provide funding towards some of the above
activities out of their general precept. What was „new‟ about this piece of
legislation however was that Parish Councils can specifically precept to cover
the cost of the five transport activities identified above without that
expenditure having to be counted against the general precept limit of £3.50
per elector set out in the 1972 Local Government Act. To date it is not known
that any Parish Council in Norfolk has exercised this new legislation.
Central Government would clearly like to see Parish Councils taking an
increasing role in community transport and the Rural White Paper announced
a new Parish Grants fund of £15 million over three years to develop small


                                        32
scale, locally generated transport solutions such as car sharing, moped loan
schemes and taxi tokens. Clearly much more work needs to be done with
Parish Councils to embrace these new opportunities.

In addition to the Parish Grants Fund, the other very significant measure listed
in the Rural White Paper was increased funding for good schemes through
the Rural Bus Challenge Fund and Rural Transport Partnerships.

The Rural Bus Challenge Fund is a competition for funds that the statutory
transport authorities are encouraged to enter by submitting innovative
projects. A similar competition has been announced called the Urban Bus
Challenge Fund. Whilst voluntary and community transport schemes cannot
make an application themselves, the types of activity that they are involved
could be eligible for funding and this is another opportunity for partnership.
The Flexible Feeder minibuses were purchased using Rural Bus Challenge
funding.

In March 1997, as part of the Governments „New Deal for Transport : Better
for everyone‟, the Rural Transport Partnership fund was set up. Rural
Transport Partnerships aim to address social exclusion in rural areas by
developing additional transport facilities.

Two Rural Transport Partnerships (RTP‟s) were set up in Norfolk and officially
commenced during June/July 1999. The East Norfolk RTP covers the
administrative areas of South Norfolk, Broadland and North Norfolk District
Councils and Great Yarmouth Borough Council. The West Norfolk &
Breckland RTP covers the administrative areas of the Borough Council of
King‟s Lynn & West Norfolk and Breckland Council.

With the extension of the RTP scheme, it is imperative therefore that the
County Council ensures that its own strategy for the development of voluntary
and community transport schemes is clear to itself and others; does not
conflict with the RTP‟s Action Plans, and vice versa. The relationship between
the RTP‟s and the County Council is a very important one; the whole county
of rural Norfolk is supported by one or the other of the RTP‟s so there are
opportunities for joint working in all rural areas.

It is particularly important that this relationship is fostered and developed as it
is confirmed in the Rural White Paper that the role of the RTP‟s is valued by
central government and is to be expanded significantly. RTP funding is
administered by the Countryside Agency.

The Norfolk Operating Plan focuses on the Rural Priority Area and transport
initiatives that come forward within that area may be eligible to bid for funding
from the East of England Development Agency (EEDA). EEDA and the
Countryside Agency are jointly managing the Market Towns Initiative which
also provides opportunities for pump priming funding for voluntary and
community transport schemes.




                                        33
Section 31 of the Health Act 1999 has particularly significant implications for
voluntary and community transport operators. In April 2000 the Health Act
1999 Partnership Arrangements 2000/617 came in to effect which provide the
enabling legislation to develop pooled budgets. Instead of users being
inconvenienced by disputes between health and local authority
responsibilities, organisations agree at the outset the range of health and local
government services to be purchased and provided from the pooled fund.
Regardless of who commits what, the pooled resource can be used on the
agreed services set out in the partnership arrangement. This gives pooled
budgets a unique flexibility, whilst being bounded by agreed aims and
outcomes. Expenditure is based on the needs of users and not on the level of
contribution from each partner. The opportunities that have been enabled by
this legislation have been taken on board by Nottinghamshire County Council
and could be pursued in Norfolk within the context of the HiMP‟s Integrated
Transport Steering Group.

The County Council must work in partnership with others in order to deliver
the Strategy. Voluntary and Community Transport provision is recognised by
the Council as an important sector that justifies development. Expenditure by
the Council in this area is increasing; in 2000/2001 the budget for voluntary
and community transport (including four pilot flexible feeders) was in the
region of £187,500. In 2001/2002 the forecast figure is in the region of
£211,000. Additional funding and the higher profile of the sector means that it
will be subject to greater scrutiny to ensure that the funding is providing best
value, and performance measures will become an important aspect of the
monitoring and evaluation process.




                                       34
7. Conclusion
The County Council is the statutory transport authority and has a legal duty to
take the strategic lead in the delivery of transport services. The Council does
not operate Voluntary and Community transport however, so it must work with
transport providers at all levels to ensure that there is no duplication of effort
or waste of resources. Partnership, where all parties invest (in practical and/or
financial terms) and reap the benefits of shared inputs is, in reality, the only
way to achieve results.

We are obliged to adopt a strategic overview position and co-ordinate the
work being undertaken to achieve the greatest possible contribution to county
and local objectives i.e. improving the provision of rural transport and
information on the ground in a co-ordinated manner.

The range of existing schemes within the county demonstrates the innovation
and expertise to be found from within the sector. These skills needs to be
nurtured, developed and shared with others with a view to establishing
models of good practice. This document raises the profile of the sector
generally and highlights its advantages and positive attributes, as well as the
areas where extra support could be provided. It is recognised that if so much
more focus is to be placed on the role of the sector, it needs to be developed
in order for it to be able to fulfil expectations.

Continued support for existing schemes will be a principal objective, together
the development of a clear and transparent County Council funding process,
clearly linked to policy objectives and a demonstration of best value.

The Council must work with partners within the sector to establish how it can
provide effective support to existing and new schemes. Important partners
are central government via Rural and Urban Bus Challenge competitions, the
Countryside Agency via the Rural Transport Partnerships, and the District,
Town and Parish Councils.

This Strategy sets out a means for delivering quality Voluntary and
Community Transport in the future.

We welcome comments and observations on this document from all
interested parties and these should be addressed to the :

Community Transport Officer
Passenger Transport Unit
Planning & Transportation Department
Norfolk County CouncilCounty Hall
Martineau Lane
NORWICH
NR1 2SG




                                       35
Useful Contacts
Community Transport Officer            Countryside Agency
Norfolk County Council                 Ortona House
Passenger Transport Unit               110 Hills Road
Department Planning and                CAMBRIDGE
Transportation                         CB2 1LQ
County Hall
NORWICH                                East of England Development
NR1 2SG                                Agency
                                       12 Looms Lane
West Norfolk & Breckland RTP           Bury St Edmunds
Officer                                Suffolk
Youth & Community Centre               IP33 1HE
The Campingland
SWAFFHAM                               Norwich City Council
Norfolk                                City Hall
PE37 7RB                               Bethel Street
                                       NORWICH
East Norfolk RTP Officer               Norfolk
Thorpe Lodge                           NR2 1NH
1 Yarmouth Road
Thorpe St Andrew                       Borough Council of King‟s Lynn &
NORWICH                                West Norfolk
Norfolk                                King‟s Court
NR7 0DU                                Chapel Street
                                       KING‟S LYNN
Norfolk Rural Community Council        Norfolk
20 Market Place                        PE30 1EX
Hingham
NORWICH                                Broadland District Council
Norfolk                                Thrope Lodge
NR9 4AF                                1 Yarmouth Road
                                       NORWICH
Community Transport Association        Norfolk
Highbank                               NR7 0DU
Halton Street
Hyde                                   South Norfolk Council
Cheshire                               South Norfolk House
SK14 2NY                               Swan Lane
                                       LONG STRATTON
Eastern Traffic Area                   Norfolk
Terrington House                       NR15 2XE
13-15 Hills Road
CAMBRIDGE                              North Norfolk District Council
CB2 1NP                                Holt Road
                                       CROMER
                                       Norfolk
                                       NR27 9EL


                                  36
Great Yarmouth Borough Council        Breckland District Council
Town Hall                             Breckland House
GREAT YARMOUTH                        St Nicholas Street
Norfolk                               THETFORD
NR30 2QF                              Norfolk


If you would like this Strategy in large print, audio, Braille,
alternative format or in a different language please contact the
Community Transport Officer on Telephone (01603 223956) or
Minicom (01603 222143) and we will do our best to help.




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