Rough road ahead for Speyside elderly/disabled car sharing scheme

A SUCCESSFUL COMMUNITY car sharing scheme could be facing a challenging future if plans to reduce the financial aid they receive from Moray Council are agreed tomorrow.

The Speyside Community Car Share Scheme has been an acknowledged success since it was established sixteen years ago, growing to 400 members with just short of 1000 journeys having been undertaken in the last year.

From its inception the scheme has provided transport for elderly and infirm residents of Speyside who do not otherwise have access to transport.

A paper placed before councillors tomorrow acknowledges that the scheme’s “principal aspiration is to promote the welfare and relieve the needs of those resident in the Speyside community who are socially isolated by reasons of age, infirmity or disability through the provision of a volunteer-based transport service”.

Volunteer drivers under the scheme are paid an mileage allowance, while users are charged 30p a mile for healthcare related journeys and 40p for social journeys. Currently, Moray Council subsidises the service to the tune of £7000 each year taken from the Transportation budget.

The report, however, points out: “This is the only community organisation that receives direct funding from the Council for the provision of transport services. Whilst there is no question that the scheme provides a valuable community service, there are a number of other community transport organisations across Moray which do not receive funding.

“Officers can (and do) provide informal support to this, and other, community transport organisations, working in partnership with Moray Forum Transport Steering Group. This support includes advice on funding sources, support and access to training, support with regulatory procedures, and information on new resources and technologies.

“It is proposed that the funding for Speyside Car Share Scheme is gradually reduced, recognising the disparity with other community transport organisations, and also recognising the Council’s financial position. As the scheme is reliant on the funding at this time, it is suggested that this is phased to enable the scheme to build other funding sources to replace this.”

Councillors will be asked to agree that the subsidy is phased out over three years, with the scheme receiving £5000 in 2018/19 and £2500 in 2019/20 before being withdrawn entirely.