A NEW accessible car scheme for residents in the Bude area has been launched by Volunteer Cornwall and local Cornwall councillors.
The scheme uses a vehicle adapted for people with disabilities and aims to help all local residents, not only wheelchair users, to get access to services and facilities where existing public transport or other local transport services are either unavailable or unsuitable.
The vehicle, which has one space for a wheelchair and two for seated passengers, has been funded by Cornwall Council.
Using volunteer drivers, it will be available all year round and can be booked for trips to anywhere from local hospitals and doctors' surgeries to schools and community clubs.
The scheme operates as a transport club; local residents can join free of charge and then book a place on the vehicle by calling Volunteer Cornwall on 01872 265300. Car-sharing is encouraged so that as many people as possible can be helped.
A mileage charge, still to be decided, will offset the cost of running the scheme.
Rural transport has been identified as a priority for the local community network and the scheme has the full support of the local Cornwall councillors Phil Tucker, Paula Dolphin, David Parsons and Nigel Pearce who have been working with Volunteer Cornwall.
"This is a much-needed scheme which will help transform the lives of people in the Bude area," they said in a joint statement.
"Bude is at least an hour's travel from any of the main medical facilities, whether Barnstaple, Exeter, Plymouth or Truro.
"This new community transport scheme, which is designed to complement local bus services, will help them to visit friends and family, especially those who are in hospital."
Cabinet member Neil Burden said he was delighted to see support from Cornwall Council for this scheme.
"It's a great example of the local community working together to meet the needs of everybody," he said.
Malcolm Campbell, a user of the service, said: "This is an opportunity for everyone in the locality to be able to pick up the phone and get from A to B with ease."
To register interest in joining the transport club or for more information about it, call 01872 265300 or e-mail brians@volunteercornwall. org.uk
Volunteer Cornwall is also looking for more drivers to operate the scheme.
Anyone who is interested in signing up is being asked to telephone 01872 265300.