New dial a ride service launched in East Cambridgeshire

Jo Philpott, who will help manage ESACT.

Jo Philpott, who will help manage ESACT. - Credit: Archant

A new dial a ride service for East Cambridgeshire was officially launched this week.

A vote was passed to wind up dial a ride back in February.

A vote was passed to wind up dial a ride back in February. - Credit: Archant

Ely and Soham Association for Community Transport – which will be known as ESACT – took over from the now defunct Ely and Soham Dial a Ride on Wednesday.

Cambridgeshire County Council has awarded a grant of £86,000 to the new service, and the money has been used to fund the purchase of new buses and staff.

Jo Philpott, who will manage ESACT, said members of the old dial a ride had all been notified of the change and invited to become members of ESACT.

Councillor Bill Hunt, county councillor for Haddenham, welcomed the new service.

He said: “I think the fact that the service is going to continue and that there will be new vehicles is good news because there is a need for this type of community transport.

“Everybody recognises the value of a service like this and it is a matter now of how it is put together and run for the benefit of people in East Cambridgeshire.”

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The change comes little more than a month after Ely and Soham Dial a Ride was folded at the recommendation of trustees at its annual meeting.

The board of trustees told members they had exhausted all options to save the service, which had run up substantial losses in the last few years, totalling more than £50,000.

A combination of factors, including falling usage, cuts in grant funding, re-negotiated council contracts and rising costs had left the charity’s finances with a bleak outlook.

Ely and Soham Dial a Ride was launched by a board of volunteers in 1999 to offer transport to elderly and disabled people living in isolation.

For the first few months, the new ESACT service will be run from March, where its sister service, Fenland Association for Community Transport, is also based.

Ms Philpott said a small hub in East Cambridgeshire was being sought.

Anyone who wishes to join ESACT can contact 01354 661234.