SOCIAL ENTERPRISE NEWS
Elections give voters the chance to reflect on the kind of society we want to be. And Scotland’s local elections on 5 May are fast approaching, when 1,227 councillors will be elected in 32 local authorities.
The Community Transport sector – which provides accessible, inclusive and sustainable transport services for people and communities across Scotland – is a key partner of local government. Many operators rely on vital grant funding from their local authority or are commissioned to deliver local services – from dial-a-ride buses which keep communities connected, to projects like befriending support, lunch clubs or community woodlands which reduce isolation and loneliness and improve health and wellbeing.
At the Community Transport Association (CTA), we champion, connect and support over 160 Community Transport operators in Scotland, some of which are social enterprises. They serve over 100,000 people every single year – especially older and disabled people, and those in deprived households or marginalised neighbourhoods, who are most likely to be underserved or excluded by public transport or least likely to be able to afford or own a private car. They provide lifeline transport to support access to amenities, education, employment, healthcare and public services.
Ahead of 5 May, we’ve developed our manifesto for Scotland’s local elections – ‘Sustainable Transport for All’ – which sets out our members’ priorities for the next generation of local councillors.
Our manifesto – which you can download here – emphasises the Community Transport sector’s commitment to accessibility, inclusivity and sustainability. It explains how our sector can help local authorities to recover from COVID-19, tackle inequality and deliver net zero. Our members, in the spirit of social enterprise, are practical and passionate problem solvers at the heart of their communities.
Sustainable Transport for All calls for local candidates and their parties to commit to:
Non-profit Community Transport schemes rely on small, short-term grants to survive. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit passenger numbers. Fuel, labour and vehicle costs are rising fast. Securing fair, multi-year council funding will be vital for the sector’s future.
The Community Transport sector is already leading the way on sustainability by promoting active travel, delivering shared transport services and adopting Electric Vehicles. But councils could partner with providers on innovative, community-led solutions like car clubs and e-bike hire schemes.
Community Transport schemes support older and disabled people to access GP appointments, hospital and care homes, often over very long distances, but usually without any public funding. The sector needs to be properly funded for its work and integrated into service planning and delivery by Health and Social Care Partnerships.
Local planning decisions must be compatible with our net zero aims by preventing developments which build-in car dependency. More councils should leverage Section 75 planning obligations to require developers to invest in sustainable transport projects like Community Transport schemes to discourage private car ownership.
Community Transport tackles inequality by providing accessible, affordable transport for those failed by commercial bus operators, often picking up the pieces after a scheduled bus route has been declared not commercially viable. Councils should prioritise not-for-profit providers and social value in service commissioning.
With a couple of months until polling day, we’re launching a campaign to engage and influence as many candidates, councillors and parties as possible. We’re calling on them to show their support for Community Transport and sign-up to our #CTpledge to help us deliver sustainable transport for all.
We’re asking CTA members and supporters to share our manifesto far and wide to help spread the word about the kind of society we want to be – accessible, inclusive and sustainable for all.
You can find out more and join our campaign at www.ctauk.org/scottishlocalelections2022 or get in touch by emailing me at email@example.com.
David Kelly, Director for Scotland, Community Transport Association
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