THE future for community transport across the Bognor Regis area is looking bright.
The driving forces behind Sammy Community Transport, which is celebrating its 40th year, held their annual general meeting last Friday.
During the meeting good news and successes over the last year for the organisation were revealed, but the needs for more volunteers and financial support were voiced.
Chairman Roger Turner said: “Our 40th year, or as they say our sapphire year, has been a good one.
“The biggest achievement would be after 40 years of having our vehicles in one place and office in another, they are now both together. Although we only have a short lease on the building we are making the most of it.
“It has also been the first full year since we took over Chichester Community Transport, including their Dial-a-Ride service which has fitted in very well with Sammy. When we took the service over we did face a struggle as we were taking on a business that was not making a profit, but I am pleased to say we are now doing well.”
Mr Turner said the registered charity, like many others, faced the difficult quest of getting its value recognised.
“It is becoming more and more obvious that community transport services are vital to an aging population. I think it is time the government and other local authorities recognise that community transport is proving to be more and more of a lifeline,” said Mr Turner.
The organisation’s manager Mike Collins told those gathered for the meeting in Aldwick’s Roland Rank Centre through lottery funding and a donation from a Stonemasons group, three new buses were on the way.
“The new buses will be delivered in three to four months and they will help us expand our services,” said Mr Collins.
Mr Collins said the new buses would have a new livery and he was constantly looking into funding options.
In his financial report Mr Collins said this year could not be compared with last year, due to the costs of the takeover of the Chichester service and their five drivers, and the move into new premises.
However he stressed the costs were manageable and the staff from Chichester had proved an asset.
Mr Collins also highlighted the need for more volunteers and encouraged anyone who felt they could give the time to get in touch. Call 01243 827821 if you think you can help.
A presentation of certificates for retired drivers was made by MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton Nick Gibb, who is also Sammy’s patron. Mr Gibb said: “As ever I am impressed by how much you do, that is why I am so pleased to be a patron. The work of Sammy and its volunteers is vital.”
LETTERS n Page 88