Cuts to community transport groups

Councillors will next week be asked to award over £330,000 to community transport initiatives - a 10% cut on previous funding.

The Aberdeenshire Community Transport Initiative (ACTI) was established in April 2008, following the transfer of responsibilities for such funding from the Scottish Government to local authorities.

Grants are awarded of up to 75% of project costs for the provision of community based rural passenger transport such as community buses, dial-a-trip services, and voluntary car schemes.

ACTI currently provides grant funding to seven local groups who were previously funded by the Scottish Government, including Ballater Royal Deeside Limited, Mid Deeside Limited (Deeside Community Transport Group),The Silver Circle and WRVS.

WRVS has a three year grant up to March 2013, and after it was asked to reduce costs for 2012/13 it has reduced its funding request from £27,351 to £25,160.

The six other groups are seeking funding of £332,169 for the financial year 2012/13.

The funding will run for one year if approved by councillors, having previously been allocated for a three-year period.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Policy and Resources Committee will be asked to approve the applications at a meeting next Thursday.

The overall amount is a reduction of around 10%, or £40,000, on previous annual funding packages, decided by Full Council at the start of last year.

Community groups were advised last year to allow them time to plan how to manage the reduction ahead of its implementation.

They were encouraged to seek alternative funding sources, make efficiency savings or increase charges if possible to try to avoid the need to reduce services. Council officers worked with some of the groups to achieve the efficiency savings, resulting in lower applications for funding.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of Transportation, Ewan Wallace, said: “Of course, it is up to all of the groups how they allocate the funds we provide – they do have the option of looking at overheads generally, or to levy a small increase in charges to the users of that service.”

A spokesperson said that due to the current financial position of the council, it is not considered appropriate to agree further funding beyond 2013. Any proposed grant awards for the financial year 2013/14 onwards will be the subject of a future committee report.