AN ORGANISATION supporting those living in isolated areas around Uttoxeter is backing pleas to improve transport links in the countryside.
A House of Commons inquiry into transport in isolated rural communities has been launched.
And the Community Council of Staffordshire is backing the five key outcomes for which lobbyists are calling.
It has been suggested that the Government must always subsidise ‘essential rural transport’ and local authorities should be obliged to provide core rural transport services and support community transport schemes.
Campaigners also want to see ‘better connectivity and partnership working between all transport providers’ and better communication of available services are needed.
The final plea was that the Government must recognise the needs of vulnerable groups - the young, elderly, jobless and disabled - in rural communities.
Bosses at the Community Council of Staffordshire said the transport challenges faced by rural communities needed to be fully recognised by the Government.
Chris Welch, chief executive of the community council, said: “Many rural dwellers who don’t have access to a car are finding it a real challenge to reach the services they need - whether that’s a hospital, post office, bank or shop – because of cuts in public transport.
“Here at the Community Council of Staffordshire we both run and offer support to voluntary car schemes which operate across the county. It is the case that community transport schemes play an enormously important role in plugging the gaps in traditional services.
“Only 42 per cent of households in the most rural areas have a regular bus service – compared with 96% of urban households, while rural dwellers travel 10,000 miles each year compared with 6,400 by their urban counterparts.
“The Government must take a joined-up approach to rural transport services before people living in rural communities become even more isolated and disadvantaged.”
Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) chief executive Janice Banks presented her queries to the Government in a recent Commons session.
She said: “The Government needs to accept that it is totally unrealistic for essential rural transport services to run without subsidies.
“Local authorities need sufficient funding for core services – and to be able to give support to the volunteers who run community transport schemes, from minibuses to car shares.
“Transport providers, local authorities, rural community councils and community volunteers must sit down together to work out the best approach.”