Axe falls on free bus travel for Flintshire jobless

Reporter:

Lois Hough

FREE travel cards for job seekers in Flintshire are to be scrapped because not enough people are using the service.

Just eight unemployed people from rural areas have taken advantage of the scheme since it was introduced last year.

The scheme was part of the Rural Development Plan (RDP) which aims to celebrate heritage in rural communities by hosting festivals, promoting the Welsh language and encouraging people back into work.

Whitford councillor Chris Dolphin thinks he knows why the travel cards were unpopular.

“The days of people waiting for a bus in the countryside are gone,” he said at an environment and regeneration scrutiny meeting.

“That ethos of a gang of kids getting the bus into town is gone. We have lost that whole generation and car sharing doesn’t work particularly well either. Travel cards will never work because they are not personal enough.”

Treuddyn councillor Carolyn Thomas added: “The travel cards were based on a successful scheme in England where people have to pay for their transport.

“In Wales a lot of our transport is free anyway so maybe that’s why it didn’t work out as well.”

Once the scheme is scrapped more than £15,000 of Welsh Assembly funding put aside for it will be ploughed into other projects in the RDP.

Cllr Matt Wright, executive member for regeneration and tourism, said: “We’re going to take a very robust view. The more money we can get down to communities the better.

“If there are projects that are doing better than others they will be getting more money.”

One such project is the scooter loan scheme.

Niall Waller, economic development manager, explained: “People lend the scooter for six months and we ask them to pay a small token charge to ensure they look after it.

“It gives them a bit of independence and helps them to get out and look for work.”
The travel cards will be stopped within the next two months.

See full story in the Leader

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