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Wednesday 23 March 2011

Adult services transport restructure in Cheshire East


Cheshire East Council is to begin a two-year programme to develop new transport arrangements for people with disabilities and older people.

The Council has identified that its unusually large minibus fleet needs to be altered to cater for the needs of modern customers, who should be given the freedom to decide their own travel arrangements.

A three-month consultation with service users found that people value the door-to-door transport service and the physical assistance offered to them and they would generally be happy to pay more for a similar service.

Now, a phased programme to move away from the current transport system will start next month.

A range of services are to be developed and closely monitored to ensure they are feasible and meet the needs of customers.

The programme will be rolled out gradually in each Local Independent Living Team (LILT) area. Crewe and Nantwich, which is seen to have the most potential for market development, will begin in April.

Macclesfield starts in July, Congleton in October and Wilmslow in January 2012. Rural areas will be tended to from the beginning of 2012.

The aim is to move away from all strategically commissioned transport by March 2013, although Cheshire East has made it clear that no individual will have their current arrangements withdrawn without an appropriate alternative solution being available.

Phil Lloyd, Director of adult, community health and wellbeing services, said: “We have learnt that our current system works well, is highly valued and that some people would be prepared to pay more to keep it. However, it works out at nearly £4,000 per person, per year. We also accept that any changes need to be phased in.

“Despite this, it costs nearly £1.6m to provide these transport services to around 420 people. Some use it once a week and others more. However, the vast majority of older people do not use either the transport or the day centres.

“In light of this, we need to act responsibly and look at whether this is value for money but also to continue to help older people and those with disabilities to get out and  about and achieve greater quality of life. It is also very important for carers who need that respite break.”

Consultation found people were willing, on average, to pay up to £4.55 per one-way trip to their day care centres. With this in mind, the Council found it appropriate to increase the flat rate charge from £2 to £4 per one-way trip.

Some options being considered as part of the programme include developing volunteer services, accreditation of accessible taxis, concessionary travel for carers, escorted door-to-door travel and extended independent travel training. A full list of options is detailed on the Council’s website.

Full details of the consultation can be found at

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