Workers rally round to save Portsmouth transport scheme

Council leader Donna Jones says she is delighted Dial-a-Ride can continue
Council leader Donna Jones says she is delighted Dial-a-Ride can continue
Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan at the Scrap The Cap rally, held in Guildhall Square

Hundreds turn out for Scrap The Cap rally

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A COMMUNITY transport service is set to be saved after a group of workers pledged to keep it going.

The future of Portsmouth’s Dial-a-Ride was uncertain after the city council revealed it wanted to take away the £117,000 it gives Pete’s Airlink to operate it.

The authority felt it was costing too much and it needs to claw back £13.1m in next year’s budget.

But Tracey Jones, schedule operator for Dial-a-Ride – which arranges mini-buses to pick up vulnerable residents from their homes – is teaming up with drivers to set up a non-profit organisation that will continue to run it.

The council has agreed to provide small grants over the next two years in the hope it will become self-sufficient.

It means Pete’s Airlink will no longer run the service and the company will continue to fulfill other transport contracts. Help will also be given to the organisation should it want to apply for funding from other bodies.

Councillor Donna Jones, Tory leader of the city council, said: ‘I am delighted with this outcome.

‘Last year there was only eight days of consultation of the city council’s budget of £505m.

‘This year we have consulted with the public for over a month, and this has given the opportunity for people like Tracey to come forward with an active plan of how to save a much loved and well used service like Dial-a-Ride.’

Tracey Jones added: ‘This is the only way we can save the service. A charity wouldn’t be able to cope with the demand and we already know our customers.’

Cllr Jones also revealed she is making a £500,000 pot of cash available to help voluntary organisations.

Yesterday, the council’s Tory cabinet agreed £13.1m will be saved next year and that will be given final approval at a meeting of the full council on December 9.

Cllr Jones has also released a video giving her views on the demise of the £300m Northern Quarter shopping development, how new proposals are now being worked up and the idea of a combined authority for the Solent region.

She said: ‘I am very frustrated because I believe this (Northern Quarter) scheme has probably been dead for over two years.’