Author Archives: Jill Elson

Annual Working Together Event

Adel Jones Strategic Planning RDE Sept 2017 Freewheelers WTE Sept 2017 Hugo at WTE Sept 2017Over 100 people attended the Working Together Event organised by East Devon District Council on Friday 29 September 2017.

This is for all voluntary organisations to meet each other – network, to learn of other voluntary organisations within East Devon.

We had an excellent update from Adel Jones Integration Director for the RDE

Dan Lavery of the Devon Freewheelers who gave a very emotional talk on the vital work they do collecting and delivering medical samples and blood etc.

 

 

 

Rt.Hon.Sir Hugo Swire MP dropped in the afternoon to meet everyone who attended and listen to their views.

Parliamentary Transport Select Committee

This bus is for those wishing to attend various appoinments. Medical, social, visitng relatives. If there are appointments that are at a very similar time and similar places they will joint trips.

Whizabout Bus

The transport select committee is reviewing the regulations that apply to Community Transport. This is our submission.                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                

Transport Select Committee

House of Commons

Westminster

LONDON SW1 0AA

 

25th October 2017

 

Lillian Greenwood MP – Chair Transport Select committee

 

This is our written submission on the inquiry into Community Transport.

 

From:  Jill Elson – I am the founder and chairman of this organisation since it began in 1990.

 

We started life as a single wheelchair accessible vehicle for those people unable to use the public transport service either because there is no public transport in a rural area or they are unable to walk or wheel themselves to the public transport bus stop. This was to allow as many people to live in their own homes as independently as possible and be able to meet friends, do their own shopping, go on trips, attend medical appointments, have lunch with others or just an ice cream on the seafront that they have not seen for many months. It is about preventing social isolation. Social isolation is increasing as more and more people are being cared for in their own homes, wherever possible.

 

ACCESSIBLE TRANSPORT IS ESSENTIAL FOR PEOPLE TO HAVE A GOOD  QUALITY OF LIFE AND BE AS INDEPENDENT AS POSSIBLE.

 

We have 3 tail lift wheelchair accessible buses. 1 sixteen seater tail lift minibus, 1 Tail lift minibus seating 8 people, one single wheelchair vehicle that can take escorts or relatives. We run under section 19 permits which means they have to book their seat at least a day in advance. The change in regulations that a person without D1 on their licence can only drive an 8 seat vehicle is increasing our costs as it limits the number of people who can travel at any one time. In order to guarantee a service on all our vehicles we have paid drivers and volunteer drivers. If we have to use the Commercial regulations it will increase our costs to a level that we will be unable to raise sufficient funds by grants etc or the fares we charge will be unaffordable by many, many people on fixed or low incomes.

 

  1. Manager Certificate of Professional Competence       £2000
  2. Requirements for full D1 licence for all drivers             £1500 per driver (estimated cost)
  3. PSV Licence ‘proof of Financial Standing’ reserves       £6650 (1st vehicle) then £3700 per vehicle
  4. Higher MOT test costs and additional servicing                    £300 per vehicle per year
  5. Higher cost medical certificate (3 yearly)                                £120 per driver (per year over 60)

     

     

    Tachograph (if not already fitted)                                                          £1500 per vehicle

  6. Loss of ability to reclaim BSOG fuel rebate for eligible work           £ unquantifiable ..
  7. Insufficient voluntary drivers available to allow the imposition of new ‘interpretation’ of Section 19 permits by Traffic Commissioner will cause services to be cancelled if unable to use paid drivers. I do question how a Traffic Commissioner is able to apply this new interpretation/ opinion without judicial review.
  8. Limitation on fares charged- also created by the imposition of new ‘interpretation’, will cause very low user number services to be even more unsustainable than they currently are. Nevertheless they are of vital importance to those people who rely on them. Local government budgets will probably not allow additional grant funding to support these services.

     

    People wish to live independently at home for as long as possible. It is Government policy through the NHS and deliverers of social care encourage home care. Extra Care or supported housing is being encouraged for all sectors depending on income. It is also helped by the use of Disabled Facilities Grants to make their homes suitable for home care.

     

    It is NOT the wish of any sector to make these people prisoners in their own homes. Our charity has had to change its services because many of our passengers requested more trips to places that provide lunches – pubs, restaurants etc. This is because they do not wish to eat every meal on their own from a foil container heated in a microwave. They wish to talk to people for their own health and well being. Our services are vital for them to keep well.

     

    Examples of our passengers’ comments

  1. A lady rang me to say she noticed one of our buses passing by her window and asked ‘Can I use it?’. In reply I said well it is for anyone who is unable to use an ordinary bus if they cannot get to the bus stop. She replied by saying she was over 75yrs in a wheelchair and sitting by her window. I said yes you can. I will organise the bus to visit you and you can try it out. This lady was in tears and said she had not been out of her bungalow for over a year, This lady now goes out once or twice a week.
  2. A person rang to say he wanted to buy his grandmother a Christmas present and wondered if he buy her a voucher to go on the bus for the next 12 months because it is her great joy to meet the other passengers and have lunch and a chat. This person pays for ALL her journeys into our bank account by standing order to keep it topped up.

 

  1. Many times when the passengers book their journeys they ask about other people who travel on the bus with them. We always need to know who has gone in hospital or they have visitors who have taken them out. One person said you are the first person I have spoken to all week.

     

    This service is vital to many peoples’ ‘Health and Well Being’. If our costs are substantially increased we will close and many people will be left as prisoners in their own homes. Community Transport is vital to many and is vital support to our local communities to enable them to visit places, have lunch, do their own shopping etc. We need help with raising funds not obstacles.

     

    We need ALL political parties to support us in saying ‘Transport’ is vital to people being able to live independently in their homes for as long as possible and have a good quality of life. We you to help us by raising our profile nationally. We need you to request that ‘Lottery’ rules are changed so we can seek funding for revenue expenditure to stay financially viable. If we close through lack of funds either from various Local Authorities or grants ‘How will people visit friends, do their own shopping etc.’

     

    Community Transport is NOT in competition with the private sector as the fares are subsidised by grants otherwise they would be too expensive. Commercial operators are not providing a door to door service and licenced ‘taxis’ are expensive in many areas due to costs. Wheelchair accessible taxis are not provided in sufficient numbers in all areas – the vehicles are higher cost, Taxi drivers do not all like helping wheelchairs to get into taxis and be safely secured in the vehicle. RURAL areas do not all have a local taxi service at all and become very expensive.

     

    A trip to our local hospital by taxi if it has to wait is a minimum of £45 or if it does 2 trips is £60. The NHS is making centres of excellence so here a patient had an appointment in Plymouth Derriford NHS from Exmouth. The cost was £120 for a 7 minute appointment. This cannot be covered by the ‘attendance allowance of £33.

     

    I have attached an example of our timetable and trips.

     

    Thank you all for reading the evidence and listening to our representatives.

     

     

     

     

     

    Jill Elson

    Chairman, Management Committee

    Exmouth and District Community Transport Group

    23 Hazeldene Gardens

    Exmouth EX8 3JA

     

     

HUB Bus

picture 4picture 2Exmouth Community Transport Group hands back the HUB bus after managing for the last 2 years as the HUB was developed. Jill Elson(chairman) said it had been a pleasure to look after the HUB bus that was paid for by the ‘Parishes Together Fund’ managed by East Devon District Council. We wish the new Well Being Hub created from the Budleigh Salterton Community Hospital every success. The HUB is for everyone who resides in the WEB Consortium GP’s area – Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton, East Budeligh, Otterton, Colaton Raleigh, Woodbury, Lympstone.

This is about giving patients local services provided by the CCG in partnership with the new HUB. The bus is to make sure patients can access this new facility.

 

 

Official Opening of Mamhead Slipway, Exmouth

Hugo and RNLI MamheadHugo and Chairman of EDDC Cllr Andrew MouldingMamhead Slipway all councillors plusMamhead Slipway all councillors plus East Devon MP Rt.Hon. Sir Hugo Swire, performed the official opening ceremony at Exmouth’s new £1.5 million Mamhead Slipway on Tuesday (1 August).Councillors on Devon County Council, EDDC and Exmouth Town Council and members of Exmouth RNLI were among the spectators as the MP cut a ribbon to declare the slipway ‘open to shipping’.

The new slipway provides a vital access point to the River Exe at all states of the tide and is expected to be heavily used during the current summer holidays, as well as being a state-of-the-art year-round facility for water-users.

Exmouth Seafront

Walk to MamheadThe PavilionQueens Drive Car ParkPremier InnWe welcome the opening of Mamhead Slip way on Tuesday 1 August 2017 at 12 noon.

Notices have been put up advising people not to tombstone off the walls as it is very dangerous and this photo shows the rocks at the bottom.

 

Giant Observation Wheel has arrived opposite the Pavilion. It will be open on Saturday 29 July 2017. This will be there for 28 days and the operator is asking for a further 2 weeks.

Views can be seen across and up and down the Estuary. Prices for rides are £5 for adults, £3.50 for children and OAP’s and a family ride (2 adults and 2 Children) costs £15 It will open at 10am and close at 6pm each day. The ride will last 8 minutes

Grenadier has announced that it will be bringing its proposals to the people of Exmouth very shortly. The building will be environmental friendly and will not use the whole site. It will use that part that is currently behind the beach huts (approximately) and the rest of the car park will be landscaped to allow for an area of grass so that stalls can be erected to have festivals or competition gazeebos etc.

The Premier Inn has been successful in providing jobs for local people and very good standard of accommodation for visitors. The Land Train is providing a way of people to access various parts of Exmouth at a reasonable price.

Danby House/Exebank site

Work has begun by Devon and Cornwall Housing Association to transform Danby House and Exebank site into homes.

There will 18 homes for sale on the front of the site facing the Estuary similar to those along at Kingslake. A further 18 homes alongside the entrance to Warren View Playing Fields from Halsdon Avenue will be for rent/shared ownership/low cost sale. East Devon District council will nominate the families for these homes.

Exmouth Hospital

Exmouth HospitalThe New Devon CCG has agreed to keep 16 beds in Exmouth Hospital. It will continue to have a minor Injuries unit run by the Claremont Medical Practice. It will still have an X Ray department and operating theatre for minor operations. The Hospital is already providing more local treatments for example transfusions to save people travelling to Exeter. More RDE Consultants are having consultations at Exmouth Hospital. More services will become available as the transformation of services take place.

Exmouth Regeneration

20150302_163110East Devon District Council has agreed to continue funding Exmouth regeneration. The 10 Conservative Councillors agree that Exmouth needs to update in a positive way to ensure that the economy grows to create jobs. Conservatives wish to encourage all its young people to be able seek good quality employment locally. It is about the next 20 years. Over 2300 students attend Exmouth Community College and is planning to rise to 2900, and they need to see a future for Exmouth.

The first discussions took place in 2010 when many of us stood in the Strand listening to people and had a shop with displays for people to make their comments. Those plans have to be constantly reviewed or adapted to the challenging economic conditions we face. It is also important that all views are taken into account. It is very easy to criticise but we need to be constructive and it is easy to object but decisions have to be made that will not always be popular with everyone. In a democracy a consensus has to be reached as none of us will win every discussion but we must respect other peoples’ opinion.

It should be noted that all the regeneration is taking place on land that EDDC owns. The Strand – now being used for events and in people sitting outside the cafes etc, Premier Inn has been a success and it was not sold to the highest bidder because EDDC owned the land and it decided who to sell it to. Mamhead Slipway became very dangerous and had to be rebuilt. Many discussions took place with water users and civil engineers to find the best solution. It has now opened at a cost of over £1 million. The land at Queens Drive is to leased to future ‘developers’ in order that EDDC will still control its use. Grenadier who wish to provide a watersports centre for all, is setting up a Community Interest Company (not for profit). It will be in the public domain early in the New Year, when ALL residents will be able to make their comments. The rest of the area will be for open public discussion and ALL Councillors (no matter which Party they represent) will listen to the many different views/ideas that are coming forward from all ages. Exmouth Councillors will have to come to a consensus as they do not all think the same and I am sure will have some  very healthy discussions.

The Estuary side from Camperdown Gut to Estuary Car park is under review due to the changing economics and online shopping. We will need more parking for boats who use the Mamhead Slipway. Plans for the station area are being brought forward and M & S is being built and will open in the New Year. The Sports/Leisure Centre is being upgraded. Many people have asked me ‘Why is the Magnolia Centre not being regenerated? ‘ The reason is that EDDC does not own the ‘newer’ Magnolia Centre(the former bomb site) - it is owned by a Pension Fund, the shops on the other side are owned by various people, EDDC owns the London Inn Car Park.

Jill Elson

Exmouth Town Hall

Exmouth Town Hall

Exmouth Town Hall

I have been arguing that Exmouth should have an outsource centre, being the largest Town in Devon and is accessible by over 40% of the population of East Devon DC area since the discussions began on moving its headquarters from The Knowle, Sidmouth to more cost effective offices to reduce costs. EDDC is also using digital technology more. I am very pleased that this has now been confirmed by the last Cabinet meeting of EDDC.

The refurbishment has been brought forward as DCC vacated the top 2 floors. This was agreed at the last Cabinet Meeting. The building does need extensive works to upgrade it for modern offices and places where we meet the visitors – including a new boiler/heating system and new roof.

The housing needs and benefit teams have done some excellent work meeting face to face with people who are in difficulties. The Housing needs team is now doing excellent work in preventing people from becoming homeless making sure they have the correct benefits, the correct paperwork from landlords if they are being evicted – for several reasons not just rent arrears but also the Landlord wishes to sell the property etc. EDDC works very closely with landlords. We now have fewer people in temporary overnight accommodation now down to 4 per annum. Environmental Health have to visit the most food establishments within Exmouth and the surrounding area. Over 70 EDDC staff will be moving in. Digital working also means that we visit more people in their own homes or can fill in the necessary documentation on site.

The headquarters is proposed to be in Honiton on land EDDC already own. This will be modern offices. The building will have the up to date insulation etc making it much cheaper to run. EDDC has already reduced its back office staff and is working with other Councils in partnership to reduce administration costs. This is all to ensure we keep the frontline services that our residents wish to keep at a good quality. EDDC still has to make more savings as Government funding reduces another £2 million in the coming year.

Funding of Exmouth Community College

20161115_091009Exmouth Community College as an Academy is registered as a Charity and is funded directly by Department of Education through the Education Funding Agency(EFA). We are monitored by the EFA on a very regular basis as well as being independently audited and our accounts can be seen on the College website. As Chair of Governors I meet Mr Alexander every week. If anything is urgent extra meetings are added or phone calls.

The College receives funding in various categories. We were very disappointed by the Government Funding review and were informed at the last week of term that we would have reduced funding of £79,000 under the new formula. I have written to our MP, Sir Hugo Swire on behalf of all the Governors.

We are also very concerned at the Devon County Council shortfall in the ‘High Needs Block’ funding for those young people who qualify based on their individual assessment for their ‘Education Health Care Package’. As a member of the ‘Devon Education Forum’ I, along with others on the forum vote against the suggestion by the DCC officers to reduce funding to every school by £55 per pupil(meeting held on 19 October 2016 available on DCC website). In the case of Exmouth Community College this will be approximately £120,000 with immediate effect. Devon County Council Cabinet may make a decision at its meeting in January. I have also raised this with our MP Sir Hugo Swire.

It is important for everyone to know that we have the same pressures on our budgets as small businesses and our grant from the EFA is fixed by them based on the number of students counted in January. We have, during the past year and ongoing  also had the following increases in our budget expenditure of the following:

  • Implications of the National Living Wage
  • Increased National Insurance contributions
  • Introduction Apprenticeship Levy
  • Increased teacher pension contributions plus further increases planned for 2019
  • Falling demographics
  • Reduction to the Education Services Grant and indeed the total loss of ESG in 2017/18
  • Address the maintenance backlog
  • Cash flat budgets
  • Absorb staff increments and inflationary increases
  • Potential increases to Local Government Pension Scheme contributions as a result of the current review being undertaken
  • Reductions to Post 16 funding
  • Increased costs due to high level instances of Mental Health issues growing within schools

Jill Elson