Chairman’s Community Transport AGM Report 2022
Another very eventful year, I would like to thank Sue and Liz for keeping the whole show on the road, especially all the way through this pandemic / vaccinations period, also nothing would be possible if it were not for all the volunteers, past and present, who are often the unsung heroes and heroines of our communities, so I would like to thank them too.
Liz has taken the opportunity to retire this year and I again thank her for all the years that she has given to the charity. She has however agreed to continue to do fund raising for us, which is much appreciated.
We now have a new member of staff, Lisa, who is now learning the very complicated ropes that go with working for a community transport group. A steep learning curve that I am sure she will soon get to grips with.
Not surprisingly, budgets are still constantly being cut, but we are hopeful that West Devon will be offering a two year deal very soon, which will help. On the other hand, West Devon is looking to increase the rent on our office space that may well outweigh any advantages gained.
The cost of living crisis that we all find ourselves in is going to make it very difficult for us to keep our prices down, and even more difficult for our volunteer drivers to keep running their vehicles. We must also not forget that our passengers may be put in the position of not having enough money to be able to travel to their appointments etc. It is a really serious situation that we would hope would get the eye of whoever is running this country, and get them to fund us accordingly. It would appear that the new national bus strategy could well make the situation worse in rural areas, as it could mean more routes being cut, instead of increasing public transport for those of us who don’t have the advantages of those living in the larger conurbations.
Okehampton is looking to be a Transport Hub, (that is providing WD and DCC are successful in bidding for the money from the government pot), to include all aspects of travel, e.g. Walking, cycling and horse riding will be included, and I am hoping that our Community Transport Group will get a mention in this as well. Time will tell.
As I said last year, we also need to keep badgering our MPs so that they fully realise the importance of our local community transport groups and not see us in the same light as larger commercial organisations. There is a time and place for full privatisation, but we still fill a very important social gap in rural transport.
It’s been an interesting year for me too. I have been involved with the group for a very long time now, but it is not until you get fully involved that you see how very hard our staff and volunteers work to keep us afloat, and on behalf of all our communities, I formally like to thank them all again for their help and dedication to this organisation.
Chairman of the Okehampton and District Community Transport Group.
ODCTG—TREASURERS REPORT FOR THE AGM on 21st July 2022
The accounts to 31st March 2022 make excellent reading thanks mainly to the generosity of Bill Litherland, who drove and fund raised enthusiastically for the Group for many years. Bill was a very sad loss last year, but he did us proud right to the end and left us with a magnificent £42976 in his will. As a result we were able to set aside £20720 for the purchase of a new Citroen, and still make a surplus of £20682 for the year. This increased our reserves to £64272 at the end of the year.
We were able to maintain two 15 seater minibuses and two wheelchair accessible vehicles despite the considerable running costs of some £21000.
We received £21837 from DCC for our school contract and a further £20000 in grants. WDBC granted us £9442 in total. Over £4000 was received from Okehampton Town Council, Okehampton Hamlets and our local Parish Councils.
The sale of goods and the 100 Club provided almost £6000 of welcome funding. Thanks are due to Liz for her car boot sales—happy retirement Liz and please continue the good work!
We purchased the new Citroen in May and we are in the process of selling the old one.
The figures for the current year are not so healthy. We have paid out almost £6000 in vehicle repairs and servicing in just 3 months, which is similar to the total for last year. The two minibuses are very expensive, particularly the older one. This is very disappointing as it has only done 45000 miles and I would expect a Mercedes to run economically for well over double that distance. I know a lot of the cost relates to the tail lift but the same argument applies. It means that we are heavily subsidising our lifestyle trips, which I totally support, but it is frustrating to pay out so much on one vehicle.
We have not received our West Devon grant to date, but Sue has established that they have earmarked £13000 for us which is most welcome. They do want to increase our rent though!
We hope to receive £4500 from the Citroen sale.
Based on all the available information it looks like we will have a deficit of around £15000 for the current year, but we have the reserves to absorb this loss. If we can secure any significant grants then the result would be much better.
Having swopped beautiful Devon for equally lovely Hampshire to be closer to family I will not make the meeting, but if anyone has questions on the accounts I will provide further details.
Treasurer 13th July 2022
OKEHAMPTON & DISTRICT COMMUNITY TRANSPORT GROUP
AGM – 21st JULY 2022
After a couple of tricky years with the restrictions we were able to reinstate all our services and our clients are delighted to be able to enjoy a day out with their friends again.
Liz retired at the end of May and we held a lunch to say goodbye and thank you to both her and Graham Harding who although he has agreed to remain as our Treasurer, has recently moved to Hampshire. We welcome Lisa Smith to the office, she started on 16th May and will usually be working on Monday and Fridays plus cover for when I have any meetings or holiday.
We have had a huge increase in the number of new clients registering for our services which in turn has increased the number of requests we are receiving. We have been receiving many more requests for evenings and weekends as the hospitals try and shorten the waiting lists by utilising other facilities such as the Nightingale Hospital and private healthcare units for operations including cataracts and orthopaedic procedures. I am having to work longer hours (average of 10 hours a week in June) including weekends to keep everything running smoothly by dealing with the calls and messages which arrive for short notice requests such as discharge from hospitals or clients being offered a cancellation. Hopefully this will settle down when hospitals return to normal (although I am not holding my breath that this will be soon!) and also when Lisa has been fully trained to take on more of the office tasks.
Ring & Ride – The annual figures were obviously low due to the situation, however for the first 6 months of this year – January to June 2022 our numbers have started to return to normal with 462 passengers being taken shopping into Okehampton and 9433 miles covered.
Lifestyle Trips – During the first 6 months of this year January to June 2022 we have taken 170 passengers to various destinations, covering 1635 miles.
Volunteer Car & Wheelchair Accessible Scheme
April 2021 to March 2022
We carried 2894 passengers, 97 in wheelchairs on 4994 journeys. We received 612 cancellations (much higher than usual due to the ongoing problems with staff at hospitals) and were unable to help 95 requests, mainly due to the extremely short notice provided. Our drivers covered 95277 miles and donated 7600 volunteer hours assisting our clients.
This scheme costs £26000 per year to run.
We were able to hold our Coffee Mornings on Saturday 11th September and 26th March and have sold many donated items on the local Facebook pages direct from our office and Liz has been attending car boot sales at weekends when the weather has permitted, which has brought in some much needed funds. We also held a Bingo on Friday 26th November. We are so grateful to everyone for continuing to support us by offering us goods for sale. We are grateful to one of our volunteer drivers, Lindsey, for the use of his garage for storage and Tom for assisting Liz at some of the car boot sales.
We have welcomed a few new drivers to our group (David Birch, Hatherleigh, Vernon Cook, Exbourne) which has been great as some of our regular drivers had to stand down for a while for their own health reasons. We are still very keen to find volunteers in both the Chagford/Whiddon Down area and also Lewdown area, these are both on the edge of our area and with other schemes not currently running, we have had to send our volunteers long distances to cover requests which is not economically viable but we do not want to refuse any requests and have recently helped clients outside of our area as they had no alternative options.
We were pleased to be able to offer help to some Ukrainian refugees who needed collecting from Bristol Airport on 30th May. Gaynor Davey, one of our previous drivers kindly drove our minibus up and brought them back to their new accommodation in Okehampton. I met the family at the event in Simmons Park and they were extremely grateful for our assistance and were happily settled into the town. We had also been able to offer some goods to help furnish their flat.
We had a Christmas meal at the Tom Cobley on 1st December for our Volunteers, Trustees and Staff. We also held an Afternoon Tea on June 15th & 16th to thank our volunteers for their unstinting dedication to helping our clients despite the recent challenges and increased demand in requests.
I have continued to take part in meetings with both Devon Community Transport Network and Southern Area Car Forum, by Microsoft Teams to share information with my colleagues in other groups, this has been just as important with the recent situation so that we can support each other in what has been a stressful and demanding time with many of us working from home. The Car Forum are working on a report to showcase our services and how they helped our communities during the last 2 years, this will be available shortly.
I attended a Health and Wellbeing Event at Chagford on Saturday 4th September which was organised by West Devon CVS. I attended the Community Links Coffee Morning at Refresh on 27th January. I attended the Winkleigh Church Wives Group on 14th March. I attended the Okehampton Hamlets meeting on 19th April to provide an update on our services and receive a cheque. We attended the Queens Platinum Jubilee Celebrations in Simmons Park on Sunday 5th June.
I would like to thank Simon Hill for all his help with our website. I would also like to thank Tony Hazell and his team at Carmel for continuing to help us with our trips as we have still been unable to recruit a minibus driver.
We took delivery of our lovely new Citroen on 30th May which was made possible by the kind bequest of Bill Litherland, who was a volunteer driver for many years. Mark Read has been providing refresher wheelchair training to our drivers and it is now out and about.
We have had a few issues with one of our buses which has meant long periods in the garage for repairs including a complete new tail-lift unit. This has caused a huge amount of unexpected expense and cancellations for some bookings.
At a Trustees meeting in June we agreed to raise the car fares due to the fuel prices, these increases took place from 1st July. The clients will now pay 55p per mile with a £3 booking fee and the local journeys will increase to £5 for the basic return journey in town. We decided not to increase the bus fares and will continue to subsidise them by applying for grants and fundraising as we feel that it is important to give everyone the opportunity to get out and about for their mental and physical wellbeing. Our Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles will also remain at the same fares.
We are in the process of producing some new brochures as they are very much out of date, Ian Snell came and took some new photos and we updated the information. We are just waiting for delivery now but I will share with you the draft which we are really pleased with.