Dial-a-ride is saved as pair take it over

(l-r) Leader of Portsmouth City Council Donna Jones, directors of Pompey Dial Ride Kerron Barnes and Tracey Jones, Jennie Brent, chief executive of The Beneficial Foundation and Cllr. Ken Ellcome at the re-launch.''Picture: Sarah Standing (150680-3998)

(l-r) Leader of Portsmouth City Council Donna Jones, directors of Pompey Dial Ride Kerron Barnes and Tracey Jones, Jennie Brent, chief executive of The Beneficial Foundation and Cllr. Ken Ellcome at the re-launch.''Picture: Sarah Standing (150680-3998)

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IT was feared vulnerable and disabled residents would lose their vital transport service.

But Portsmouth’s dial-a-ride service has been saved after two caring employees decided to club together and keep it going.

We are determined to make it work, there would be too many people left isolated in their homes else.

Pompey Dial Ride director Tracey Jones

Tracey Jones and Kerron Barnes have formed a not-for-profit organisation that will continue to pick up people from their homes in minibuses and ensure they are able to get about.

And yesterday the pair came together with council officials who helped them get into business at a relaunch party with users of the service.

Tracey said: ‘Dial-a-ride has been going in this area for 30 years and I have been a part of it for 15 years – you get to know all the people who use it.

‘We are determined to make it work, there would be too many people left isolated in their homes else.’

Pete’s Airlink formerly operated dial-a-ride in Portsmouth – but it was heavily subsidised by the council and due to cutbacks the money had to be withdrawn.

Tracey and Kerron both worked at Pete’s Airlink and did not want to see residents missing out – so they got to work on a business plan to keep the service.

The service is now called Pompey Dial Ride and its office is based at the Beneficial Foundation. The council has provided the firm £18,000 towards start-up costs and given £17,500 for new vehicles.

Cllr Ken Ellcome, Tory cabinet member for traffic and transport, put Tracey and Kerron in touch with the foundation to ensure they could link up. ‘I am really pleased we have been able to work with Tracey and Kerron in making sure dial-a-ride goes forward,’ he said. ‘This is a new, improved dial-a-ride which will be able to extend its offer to residents in the city in terms of getting them about and getting them to the shops and on special trips out. I wish them every success for the future.’

MS sufferer Karen Silman, 56, has used dial-a-ride for seven years.

She said: ‘It’s fantastic the service is continuing. We have still got a lot of hard work to do in terms of ongoing fundraising.’

Council leader Donna Jones said: ‘A huge thanks to Tracey and Kerron who really did think outside the box and took on board the challenge put to them.’

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