'˜Put brakes on funding cuts', says valued transport charity

A '˜unique' transport service which helps hundreds of residents each month could see its funding cut by more than a fifth.

Worthing Dial a Ride manager Gary Mills with regular customer Jeanette Richard
Worthing Dial a Ride manager Gary Mills with regular customer Jeanette Richard

Worthing Dial a Ride has urged Worthing Borough Council to reconsider a potential reduction in its £39,600-a-year grant.

The charity runs a variety of services, from taking people to hospital appointments and their weekly shopping trips, to transporting special educational needs children to school.

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Manager Gary Mills warned losing funds could ‘cripple’ the service, limiting those it could help.

He said: “We are supplying a very unique service for many people. We help people who can’t access conventional transport and by cutting it we are cutting our mobility to people in social isolation. When we take them it could be their only trip of the week and it means the world to them.”

Chairman Steve Plumb said a reduction of around 21 per cent was a consideration.

“The threat in the medium term is potentially the service could die,” he said.

Trustee David Parker has written to councillors urging them to step in. While recognising the council’s funding pressures, he questioned cutting Dial a Ride’s grant and not a Worthing Theatres subsidy of around £1.5million.

A council spokesman said: “We are currently working on a project to review how we can support all forms of community transport in the area. We recognise how important such services can be in terms of the economic, social and health benefits for vulnerable and disadvantaged residents. Our aim is to ensure not only value for money, but more importantly that our community transport offer reaches the widest group of people and communities.

“This is a work in progress, and Dial a Ride Southern Services, along with a number of other local organisations, will play a key role in helping us to reach conclusions that meet these aims.”