Trowbridge and Westbury Link groups fear funding cuts
Organisers of Link voluntary transport schemes in west Wiltshire say the loss of council funds will be a body blow to their operations.
As part of Wiltshire Council’s proposals to make £25m worth of reductions to its 2014/15 budget, it plans to save £39,000 by withdrawing its 5p-per-mile support funding to Link schemes.
There are 45 of the voluntary services running across Wiltshire which take elderly and disabled people to medical appointments and shopping.
Doug Ross, chairman of Trowbridge Link, said he estimated the group would lose around £2,500 in funding if the council agrees to the budget at its meeting at County Hall on Tuesday, February 25.
Last year the group made 4,452 journeys, covering a total of about 60,000 miles.
He said: “The 5p-per-mile funding was brought in around four or five years ago and we travel around 55,000 miles a year so that made a significant difference to us.
“We are a charity and we don’t charge so we’ll have to look at making up the difference through fundraising perhaps.”
Trowbridge Link, which has 45 volunteers, receives £5,200 of annual funding from Wiltshire Council out of a share of around £50,000 to support the community transport schemes. This fund is expected to remain available.
If Wiltshire Council presses ahead with its budget proposal to end the 5p- per-mile funding Westbury Link will also lose around £2,500.
Westbury Link has about 40 volunteers, mostly retired. Its chairman John Adams said: “Due to the financial pressure everyone is under, we already get less money contributions, so it will be quite a blow and it will be disappointing if the council withdraws the funding.
“The community would suffer considerably if we couldn’t continue to run the service as it needs all the support it can get.
“Last year, we covered 50,000 miles, which shows how in demand it is. We did more than 500 journeys to Royal United Hospital, Bath, alone, taking people to and from their appointments and without the service many vulnerable people would struggle to get to where they need to go.”
A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “This proposal will not affect the grants the council currently provides to Link schemes for their general transport activities. The full proposal will be discussed and debated at the council budget meeting on February 25.”