Community Transport in the Dulais Valley
The Dulais Valley is a former coal mining area within the borough of Neath Port Talbot. In 1996 research was carried out to identify the priorities for community regeneration . Public transport emerged as the number one issue. A business plan was put together by the Dulais Valley Partnership with support from the local council and from Neath Port Talbot CVS. Funding was obtained to employ a part time worker and a vehicle. Volunteer drivers were sought. The scheme got off the ground, small scale, and targeting those most at risk.
By 2001 there were two vehicles, a part time co-ordinator and administrator and nine volunteer drivers. With additional funding the scheme expanded, increasing its geographical reach and acquiring a vehicle which could accommodate a wheelchair. The growing demand for transport services now included evenings and weekends. Whilst volunteers were happy to give their time when they could, they did not feel able to cover the unsocial hours that were increasingly required. Additional paid staff were taken on, some as drivers and others to develop and manage service contracts with the local authority.
Eventually the transport project was separated from the Dulais Valley Partnership and established with its own management board and constitutional identity. Advice was obtained from many parties, including the Unison representative and the local authority, on the process of consultation with staff and volunteers and the establishment of an independent organisation.
The Dulais Valley now is proud to have its own integrated transport service, involving 21 different vehicles including cars, minibuses and disabled-friendly people carriers . It is run by five office staff who oversee management and operational sides of the project, with 17 paid drivers and 14 volunteer drivers.
The service is still expanding, having recently received grant funding to pilot a shopping scheme for the elderly, as well as a substantial sum from the Deprived Areas Fund to run the ‘Moving On’ scheme aimed at transporting people back to employment, training or work-related volunteering. In addition to the figures above, the Moving On project employs four full-time office staff, nine drivers and operates eight leased vehicles.
Dulais Valley partnership
Neath Port Talbot
WCVA/ Wales TUC Charter. Case Study. 2011