A charity which has almost 20 years experience providing accessible transport could be awarded the councils’ entire cash pot for community transport funding.
The move to hand the funding to Community Transport Sussex, which currently helps people in Crawley, Mid Sussex and Horsham who lack access to transport due to age or disability, could see a rise in residents taking advantage of free community transport, a spokesman for Adur and Worthing councils said.
In the past, the councils’ Community Transport Grants have been awarded to various schemes but the spokesman said directing the funds solely towards the charity would help better coordinate and maximise services and enable different bodies to share resources.
It would help avoid duplication of effort and allow organisations to share minibuses according to their needs, rather than purchase their own vehicles, the spokesman said.
Community Transport Sussex would continue to work with Dial-A-Ride Southern Services, which would see no reduction in current services, confirmed the spokesman.
A report to councillors recommends the remaining budget available for the Community Transport Grants, which is £10,305 from Adur District Council and £15,510 from Worthing Borough Council for the period of October to March 2019, is given to Community Transport Sussex.
The decision will be taken the councils’ executive members for health and wellbeing.
Matt Roberts, chief executive officer of Community Transport Sussex, said the organisation was ‘very positive’ about the proposal.
He said it would help the charity support Dial-A-Ride Southern Services, with which it has had a close relationship over the last two years.
“We have a very good track record over 18 to 20 years,” Mr Roberts said.
“We will use the model we have used very successfully in Crawley, Mid Sussex and Horsham to expand into Adur and Worthing.”
If the funding proposal is approved, Mr Roberts hopes to introduce at least one and possibly three more wheelchair accessible vehicles within the first few months, bringing the charities total fleet in the county to 45.
Community Transport Sussex will continue to work with local groups and charities, including Age UK West Sussex, to improve infrastructure and ‘fill the gaps’ in transport provision where they exist.
Geoff Davis, chairman of the board at Dial-A-Ride Southern Services, said he was confident that the proposal would help its services continue and allow it to better take advantage of Community Transport Sussex’s expertise.