Council grant buys more time for threatened Dial-a-Ride service

Dial A Ride, Ely.

Dial A Ride, Ely. - Credit: Archant

Ely Soham Dial-a-Ride has been handed a grant of £15,000 from East Cambridgeshire District Council to help stave off the threat of closure.

At a full council meeting on Thursday evening, Councillor James Palmer, leader of the authority, put forward a proposal to approve the funding following a meeting with the organisation.

The money will allow Ely Soham Dial-a-Ride to suspend its threatened closure – which was set for March - and help those in charge to investigate options to keep the struggling service afloat.

The district council has also agreed to help Dial-a-Ride secure funding from Cambridgeshire County Council for 2015/16 as well as assist in any negotiations with the county council for future grants.

Cllr Palmer said: “Before Christmas I offered to sit down with the Ely Soham Dial-a-Ride to find a solution to their financial problems - thankfully they agreed to accept my invitation.

“During our meeting, it became clear to me that the organisation simply needed time to thoroughly work out a clear way forward. On behalf of the district council, I felt it was right to offer them a grant which would give them the breathing space they needed.”

Dial-a-ride provides low-cost transport to shopping centres for members living in isolated villages and has been running for 12 years.

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It employs 35 staff and its based in Witchford, with a fleet of 10 buses.

Cllr Palmer added: “This is not an indefinite commitment – however I believe it is a sign that we believe in Ely Soham Dial-a-Ride’s ability to create a future for itself.

“As I said before Christmas, they give their passengers a purpose – getting them out and about, keeping them active in mind and body.

“This funding provides a great opportunity for them to focus their community based service to continue to meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable residents. I look forward to working with Ely Soham Dial-a-Ride in the forthcoming months as they work to find themselves a sustainable future.”