The Swindon Labour Group have raised concerns over the future of Swindon Dial a Ride. At the June Cabinet Meeting, Cabinet agreed to cut £100K from the Dial a Ride service who receives £320K per year from Swindon Council. The existing Dial a Ride contract is due to expire at the end of August and Swindon Council will have the option of extending the existing Dial a Ride contract or putting out to tender the Dial a Ride/Community Transport service.
However the Swindon Labour Councillor, Derique Montaut, has expressed concerns about what Dial a Ride service will be left after the contract is either extended or retendered, after getting no reassurance from the Council of the future funding of the Dial a Ride service. He adds there is a very real prospect of Dial a Ride closing if cuts are made to the service.
Labour’s Liden, Eldene and Park South Councillor, Derique Montaut, said:
“I am calling on the Cabinet Member for Transport to make clear how much funding Swindon’s Dial a Ride services will be receiving once their existing contract expires. In the Cabinet report it states a £100K cut which would mean a cut of a third of their overall funding. But the Council are unwilling to state with certainty that a Dial a Ride service will definitely get two-thirds of the funding they currently receive.
The Dial a Ride service offers a lifeline for our town’s most disabled people and our elderly, stopping them living in isolation. They provide more than 6000 journeys every year for their users. 10% of these journeys were based on health grounds and many of these journeys provide disabled people transport to work or education. Offering a taxi service for these people simply is not adequate because of the Dial a Ride users’ disabilities. The Cabinet’s proposed cuts could in effect mean the ending of the Dial a Ride service we know today.
I know there is still huge admiration in the town for the service Dial a Ride provides. In the past the Council has given its wholehearted commitment to Dial a Ride and my fear is that the Cabinet are looking to erode this commitment, with the end of the service we know and value.