SNP MSP Bob Doris calls on Council Planning body to think again over cut to vital Springburn service
MSP Bob Doris has today called upon Glasgow City Council’s Community Planning Partnership (CPP) to think again regarding plans to cease all funding for the Springburn-based North Area Transport Association (NATA).
NATA, a not-for-profit community transport organisation, currently provides transport solutions for community organisations across north Glasgow, the majority of whom work closely with elderly, disabled and vulnerable groups. The local board has recommended a 100% cut in funding to NATA, to be ratified by the CPP at their next meeting on the 13th December.
Bob Doris, MSP for Glasgow, said: "I am astounded that the local CPP has recommended such a severe cut to such an essential community service. If this bizarre decision is ratified, it will impact most severely upon the mobility of many vulnerable groups across north Glasgow. It is essential that the CPP look again at this recommendation and I am calling on board members to have a heart this Christmas.
I am calling on them to protect our elderly, disabled and vulnerable citizens, to recognise that mobility services, such as NATA’s, are vital, especially at this time of year. I am also calling upon them to conduct a fuller consultation, which might convince them that protecting valuable services to the vulnerable, such as NATA’s, is the right thing to do. We all appreciate that during difficult financial times cuts may need to be made, but to end all funding without consultation or communication, seems heartless in the extreme.
Ashley McLullich, Scheme Co-ordinator for the Northern Sole Mate Walking Network, a Springburn community group which organises short walks and trips around north Glasgow, said:
“Many of our elderly users are housebound and lack opportunities to socialise. We rely on NATA to provide a community resource which allows us to help the less mobile to get out of the house. Without NATA, our network will find it very difficult to make up for the loss of such a vital service. Using NATA allows our vulnerable members to take part in everyday activities, the activities most of us take for granted, such as walking around the shops."
John Blake, General Manager of NATA, said: “North Area Transport Association has been the provider of community transport services for the past 7 years. In this time the organisation has grown to be a highly successful social enterprise. We did realise that one day the organisation would need to be self sustaining. We have been working towards this and are 80% of the way which leaves a shortfall of 20%. In their wisdom, Glasgow City Council Community Planning Partnership have withdrawn our revenue funding when we are trying to partner with other agencies, in order to fulfill the last 20% of revenue which can make us fully sustainable.
"The result of this action will now force the organisation to reduce in size by making staff redundant and we will have to cut back on services designed for community benefit. The whole process has been wrong. Board members on the local community planning partnership are making decisions when they do not fully understand our model or service.
"The local CPP board does not even have a representative from Strathclyde Partnership for Transport on their board, which is the transport local authority."
NATA serve community organisations involved with elderly, youth, disabled and vulnerable groups and their aim is to provide accessible, affordable and reliable community transport that encourages and supports the participation of local residents in community activity and economic opportunity. They are a not-for-profit organisation which means that the surpluses they generate go not to shareholders but straight back into the communities they serve. NATA provides transport services for organisations representing disadvantaged, disabled, elderly, youth and vulnerable people within the community. Public transport is often unsuitable and therefore community transport provides the facilities and flexibility required. All NATA staff, including drivers, have been background checked with Disclosure Scotland and follow child protection policies.
They offer specialised training courses tailored to the needs of participants with on-site support and assessment. Their courses are a must for individuals escorting passengers on minibuses as well as minibus drivers. The main aim of the service is to help local residents, including young people and children in the area, to overcome ‘mobility’ barriers to participation in community life. NATA’s transport services are flexible to group needs. They offer a door-to-door service, which means peace of mind for individuals with mobility difficulties, young children and other groups within the community and because they are a charity, their services are very affordable. Transport services are only available to community organisations and their members.
Councillor Sadie Docherty (Linn Ward) has been appointed as the new Chair of the Glasgow Community Planning Partnership.