Transport charity on bright new road

MORE services are planned by a transport charity serving Bognor Regis and Chichester as it settles into its first home of its own.

Sammy Community Transport celebrated the official opening of its base in North Bersted.

Patron Nick Gibb MP performed the ceremony in front of an audience of invited dignitaries.

The rented building is the first in Sammy’s 40 year history which is not shared with other occupiers.

Mike Collins, the company secretary, said: “We now want to launch a dial-a-ride service to serve Bognor and amalgamate it with the one we took over in Chichester in 2011.

“That means one of our clients could dial up a journey anywhere within the boundaries of those two areas. It depends on getting the funding and the availability of suitable buses. So, it could be two months before it starts.”

Sammy’s new building on Chichester Road is also the first time it has been able to combine its offices with parking for its fleet of seven minibuses and three cars.

“It is much easier for us to be on the spot. It has saved us several half days’ worth of aggravation since we moved in on March 13.

“Sammy started with one minibus and we are becoming more professional. We have had to move with the times,” said Mr Collins.

The charity was based in Bognor Regis Town Hall before it spent ten years in solicitors’ offices in York Road. The vehicles were most recently parked on Shripney Road thanks to John Wiley.

The charity’s annual turnover for the combined Bognor and Chichester operations is nearly £200,000.

“Funding is always tight because we can’t charge our clients too much or they would not be able to afford us,” said Mr Collins.

“We have over 2,000 regular users. That number is going by 50 a month and I would expect it to keep growing in this financial climate.

“Our clients can’t afford any other form of transport and can’t use buses.”

Sammy’s vehicles made some 24,000 passenger journeys in 2011 and about 20,000 last year. They were driven by 60 volunteers.

n Four days of hard work by a Ford Open Prison party totally changed the back garden of Sammy’s offices into a parking area.