Community funding move

Councillors will today (Thursday) be asked to approve more than £330,000 for North-east community transport initiatives.

The Aberdeenshire Community Transport Initiative (ACTI) was established in April 2008, following the transfer of responsibilities for funding by Holyrood to councils.

Grants are awarded of up to 75% of project costs for the provision of community-based rural passenger transport such as community buses, dial-a-trip services, and voluntary car schemes.

ACTI currently provides grant funding to seven local groups who were previously funded by the Scottish Government - Buchan Dial-a-Community Bus, Banffshire Partnership Limited, Ballater Royal Deeside Limited, Mid Deeside Limited (Deeside Community Transport Group), Mearns Community Transport, The Silver Circle and WRVS.

WRVS has a three year grant up to March 2013, and after it was asked to reduce costs for 2012/13 it has cut its funding request from £27,351 to £25,160.

The six other groups are seeking funding of £332,169 for the financial year 2012/13.

Given the council’s current financial position, the funding will run for one year if approved by councillors, having previously been allocated for a three-year period.

The policy and resources committee will be asked today to approve the applications.

The overall amount is a reduction of around 10%, or £40,000, on previous annual funding packages, decided by the full council.

Community groups were advised in February 2011, to allow them time to plan how to manage the reduction.

Only Buchan Dial-a-Community Bus anticipates it will have a direct impact on services. Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of Transportation, Ewan Wallace, said: “Our officers are continuing to speak to Buchan Dial-a-Community Bus to help them identify alternative sources of funding.

“As the service is aimed at patient transport, we are also speaking to NHS Grampian about any assistance which it may be able to give.

“Work is also currently being done by public sector partners to look at the wider delivery of patient transport under the Health and Transportation Action Plan, so there is potential here for any gap in service to be filled.

“Of course, it is up to all of the groups how they allocate the funds we provide – they do have the option of looking at overheads generally, or to levy a small increase in charges to the users of that service.”

Due to the current financial position, it is not considered appropriate to agree further funding beyond 2013. Any proposed grant awards for the financial year 2013/14 onwards will be contained in a future committee report.