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£4.2M RURAL TRANSPORT PARTNERSHIP LAUNCHED

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Transport minister John Reid has formally launched the£4.2m Rural Transport Partnership scheme, aimed at helping r...
Transport minister John Reid has formally launched the£4.2m Rural Transport Partnership scheme, aimed at helping rural communities by supporting local transport partnerships.

Speaking at the launch of the Telford & Wrekin Rural Transport Partnership, the first project to benefit from the scheme, Dr Reid said: 'The Rural Transport Partnership will put extra resources into rural transport where it counts, by supporting schemes which reduce rural isolation and social exclusion through enhanced access to jobs and services.

'The government's white paper, A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone, is about securing long-term improvements to the quality of transport services. This scheme helps deliver on that promise.

'The Telford & Wrekin Rural Transport Partnership clearly meets the aims of the new initiative, by focusing on partnership between communities, the voluntary sector, local authorities and the private sector, to make a range of essential services more accessible to people living in the rural communities of the Wrekin.'

The Rural Transport Partnership, which was announced in the transport white paper in July, is part of a package of£50m per year for rural public transport which seeks to reduce social exclusion through enhanced accessibility to jobs and services. The new scheme will be administered by the Rural Development Commission, to run alongside the Rural Transport Development Fund, which the commission also administers.

NOTES

1. In his March Budget, the chancellor announced a£50m per year package of funding for rural public transport in the UK. England's share (under the well established Barnett formula) is£41.7m. Of this sum,£32.5m has been allocated to local authorities to subsidise bus services for rural areas. A further£5m is to be distributed in the autumn, after consideration of local authority bids for innovative bus schemes under the Rural Bus Challenge.

2.£4.2m will be devoted to rural community-based transport schemes under the Rural Transport Partnership (RTP) scheme, which will be administered by the Rural Development Commission (RDC).

3. The RTP will be characterised by an emphasis on building rural transport 'partnerships' to ensure long term enhancements to the quality of transport services. The other key themes will be better co-ordination of existing voluntary, local authority and commercial services, and the greater integration of rural bus, rail and taxi services.

4. The Telford & Wrekin Rural Transport Partnership is the first project to benefit from the new money made available under the RTP. The Partnership proposes to appoint a full-time, permanent Rural Transport Co-ordinator to draw up an action plan for the project, in conjunction with the partners. The appointee will be responsible for developing a community bus pilot project connecting the communities of four rural parishes with local district centres, and a rural transport brokerage' scheme to make the fullest possible use of existing resources by co-ordinating the use of vehicles and sharing costs.

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