Author Archives: Jill Elson

Exmouth Community Transport

IMG_20180827_102616Article for DCC Community Transport Bulletin by Jill Elson

I became involved with Community Transport in 1989 when Devon County Council wished to make better use of its small tail lift vehicles that transported clients to Schools and Social Service day centres. Devon County wished to optimise the use of the buses between 10am and 4pm when idle.

Phil Slater from DCC made a presentation to the Exmouth District Councillors about the scheme. I fully supported the proposal and was asked by the Councillors to see if it was needed for a service area of Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton, East Budleigh, Otterton, Colaton Raleigh, Woodbury, Woodbury Salterton and Lympstone.  I visited all these Parish Councils and they supported it. Newton Poppleford wished to be included.

We had to raise £15,000 as our share of starting the scheme. I had a meeting with all the Parish and Town Councils and various voluntary organisations to discuss future funding of the scheme in partnership with Devon County Council and East Devon District Council. The Parish and Town Councils agreed to pay a grant from their parish precepts based on their populations each year.

I have always been aware, that many people due to a mobility problem, found it very difficult to travel anywhere by themselves or with an escort. We have rural areas that do not have public transport to access shops, hairdressers etc. The most satisfaction is when a person can get out of their home after being confined to it for some time. I remember a lady who rang me to say she was sitting in her kitchen looking out of her window and saw our bus go past – was she able to use it?  I chatted and found out she was an elderly person in a wheelchair and had not been out of her bungalow for over a year. I said ‘yes’ the bus is for her and explained how she books herself on the journey. At the end of the phone call this lady was in tears and after a while she made sure her name was down for every trip or outing!!! I call our buses ‘care buses’ as many of the people who travel, are regulars and wish to know how Mr or Mrs is, as they were not travelling that day. Our drivers and co-ordinator’s are key to our success, they speak to the passengers, know where they live, if they have family close by and very often help them to contact other services they may need to improve their quality of life. We are often the only person they speak to all week or have the time to talk. We are the connection to the ‘outside local world’.

Over the years Community Transport has transformed peoples’ lives and more services are being provided. We now have 3 vehicles instead of one. Our passengers are our lead on the services we provide. We now organise trips, nearly always to a pub! Local lunches are very popular, so they can socialise whilst having a meal (not a metal foil dinner to heat in a microwave), so important to them all. We go the ‘silver screen’ at the local cinema, call in for coffee at the garden centre before going shopping. Most important is that our passengers feel safe with us and we can be trusted. People are the ones who matter, give us job satisfaction when we have been able to get them out of their ‘4 walls’, have time to chat and they have enjoyed their journey.

The biggest frustration is having to raise money to keep our services ‘on the road’. We are very grateful to all our Local Councillors continuing to support us all with a grant each year. Some councils have stopped these grants but not ours. Our local councils support residents having a good quality of life. Raising funds for ‘running costs’ is the difficulty as many organisations, trusts and the national lottery only give grants to capital projects or to specific programmes.

I find being a District Councillor an asset to meeting all Local Councillors, invited to launches of new services, that seem to forget people have to travel to them. For example; NHS gives you an appointment and you have to find your own way there – if no public transport is available, what are you to do? They have changed the criteria of Patient Transport so many people no longer qualify. In a rural County people do not have access or are able to get to the nearest bus stop to use public transport 7 days per week.

I qualified as a Residential Social Worker for Children and Young People but had to return home for personal reasons. I stood for the District Council as a relaxation from a job that was dead boring but gave me an income as I have always been interested in people and their welfare. It is a good fit. I also volunteer for Exmouth Lympstone Hospiscare and am a Governor of Exmouth Community College.

People matter, they may need help, advice and guidance and find it very difficult to ask a stranger. Many elderly people, who have had very full life, have a lot wisdom and are worth listening to. I believe it is our job in Community Transport to make sure any one, whatever their age should be able to have a good quality of life and not be left to exist behind 4 walls to become isolated and lonely. We will have to continue to fight for Community Transport for people to connect with the outside world.


Exmouth Community College


Press Release –A Level results  2018

Exmouth Community College


Students and staff at Exmouth Community College are once again celebrating great results which further improve on last year’s best ever set of A level results and includes one of our students gaining a place at Cambridge University to study English.

A level results have once again improved and these results reflect our relentless pursuit of high quality teaching, bespoke individualised support for each student and an outstanding commitment on behalf of every member of staff to help every student, no matter what their ability, reach the very highest grades possible. We have achieved our best ever results in all major areas and results across a really wide range of subject areas show very high levels of progress and attainment.


Students and staff have achieved an amazing 20%A* to A grades, with 70% of all grades being A-C.


Four students achieved three A* or A grades across all their subjects which, given the increased difficulty of the exams is an incredible achievement and over 70 students achieved at least one A* or A grade.  However, it is important to recognise that students across the range excelled according to their enthusiasm and abilities. We absolutely recognise the achievement of every individual student no matter what their starting point.


20% of students achieved A* to A grades.

70% of students achieved A*- C grades.

97% of students passed all their examinations (A*-E).


Vocational and BTEC results have once again been really successful with 60% of results from Sport, Media Studies, Child Development, Health and Care and IT being at the top grades of either Distinction or Distinction Star. This is a fantastic achievement by both students and staff, since these are very rigorous courses which are recognised by both university and industry as being high value qualifications.


Most importantly the vast vast majority of our students have gained places at their university of choice or have gone on to gap years, apprenticeship or employment.



Simon Tanner, Assistant Principal and Head of Post 16 said: “I am delighted! This has been richly deserved by students and staff who worked with focus and determination throughout the year. Government figures showed we achieved above the national rates of progress with our students last year, and these figures suggest we have repeated that: this will undoubtedly give our students improved life chances. As a result many are going to be able to pursue fantastic opportunities, from Mechanical Engineering at Bath, to Geography and Statistics at Glasgow and to English at Cambridge.”


College Principal Andrew Davis said

“This is yet another fantastic set of results for our Post-16 which, based on last year’s national data set, should once again place us in the top 20% of Sixth Forms and Colleges in the country.


These results are a testament to both our Year 13 students who were fantastic ambassadors for our College throughout their time with us as well as the staff, both teaching and support staff, at the College who have once again showed incredible skill, huge determination and great commitment to continually go the extra mile to support our Post 16 students and help them achieve these results.


The success of our Sixth Form is based on great teaching, outstanding pastoral support for each student and wider curriculum opportunities beyond the classroom. It is clear that this group of students really embraced this approach and, when combined with their motivation, talent and grit, has produced a set of results which I am sure they can be very proud of. I know as a College we are very proud of all of them and would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the staff for all their amazing efforts throughout the year and wish those students leaving us this year all the best for the future.


On behalf of the Governing Board at Exmouth Community College, Chair of Governors Margaret Turgoose said “These results are very good news indeed and I am absolutely delighted for our students that they have achieved such great results this year.


Exmouth has a Community College of which it can be very proud.


As a Governing Board we know that good results only come from very hard work from the students and the staff together and are very grateful, as ever, to the Post-16 support team led by Mr Tanner and Mrs Thomas, Heads of Department, including the Post-16 key stage co-ordinators who track the data of each individual student and put in place actions to get them back on track, and, of course, all the teachers and support staff who motivate, challenge and inspire the students every day.


Well done to all!”

Queens Drive Exmouth Seafront

Visit the website to give your views and your thoughts

Every one has a view and this is your opportunity to have a say. Do not worry if you think it is ‘out of the box’ it matters

Affordbale Housing in Halsdon Avenue

IMG_20180528_09483118 ‘Affordable Homes’ are being built in Halsdon Avenue. Nominations will be from East Devon District council. They are being built by Liverty formerly Devon and Cornwall Housing Association.

These will be mixture of rented, shared ownership.

This development has cleared up the derelict Danby House/Warren View site.

Affordable Housing

East Devon DC HousingEast Devon has been able to purchase over 28 homes within East Devon from Estate Agents to increase its housing stock during the last financial year. East Devon is one of very few councils that still owns housing stock. These will be rented at ‘affordable rents’ (80% of market rent). Tenants still qualify for Housing Benefit. East Devon is well aware we have people in full time employment but because of low wages still qualify for Housing Benefit. Please make sure people check with our advisors who are now in Exmouth Town Hall. You can make an appointment.

14 in Exmouth, 8 in Axminster, 3 in Sidmouth, 2 in Honiton,1 in Seaton.

If you or you know anyone who thinks they will become homeless please contact us at Exmouth Town Hall where we will help. You can drop in.

Exmouth and District Community Transport

WHIZABOUT FRONTWHIZABOUT insideFORDFORD rearExmouth and District Community Transport has invested money into providing new vehicles to provide a more flexible and better services for the residents of its service area. This are is almost the same as the WEB Consortium of local GP practices and Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton Community Hospital (now a ‘Well Being Hub’). This top one is an 8 seater tail lift vehicle so that we comply with the new legislation that no one now can drive above 8 seats if they are under 35yrs due to driving licence changes.

A single wheelchair vehicle the size of an estate car is ow available to take people for individual appointments – may be medical, weddings, funerals or just to visit relatives or friends. this has to be booked in advance to ensure it is available.

We use volunteer drivers and paid drivers who are all trained on how help passengers and most importantly to fix wheelchairs so people are safe.

Contact our office on Exmouth 26 66 62 for information or to book journeys. Open from 10am to 12 noon and 1pm to 3pm

We have timetabled journeys and trips with our larger buses to many places.




Annual Working Together Event

Adel Jones Strategic Planning RDE Sept 2017 Freewheelers WTE Sept 2017 Hugo at WTE Sept 2017Over 100 people attended the Working Together Event organised by East Devon District Council on Friday 29 September 2017.

This is for all voluntary organisations to meet each other – network, to learn of other voluntary organisations within East Devon.

We had an excellent update from Adel Jones Integration Director for the RDE

Dan Lavery of the Devon Freewheelers who gave a very emotional talk on the vital work they do collecting and delivering medical samples and blood etc.




Rt.Hon.Sir Hugo Swire MP dropped in the afternoon to meet everyone who attended and listen to their views.

Parliamentary Transport Select Committee

This bus is for those wishing to attend various appoinments. Medical, social, visitng relatives. If there are appointments that are at a very similar time and similar places they will joint trips.

Whizabout Bus

The transport select committee is reviewing the regulations that apply to Community Transport. This is our submission.                                                                                     


Transport Select Committee

House of Commons




25th October 2017


Lillian Greenwood MP – Chair Transport Select committee


This is our written submission on the inquiry into Community Transport.


From:  Jill Elson – I am the founder and chairman of this organisation since it began in 1990.


We started life as a single wheelchair accessible vehicle for those people unable to use the public transport service either because there is no public transport in a rural area or they are unable to walk or wheel themselves to the public transport bus stop. This was to allow as many people to live in their own homes as independently as possible and be able to meet friends, do their own shopping, go on trips, attend medical appointments, have lunch with others or just an ice cream on the seafront that they have not seen for many months. It is about preventing social isolation. Social isolation is increasing as more and more people are being cared for in their own homes, wherever possible.




We have 3 tail lift wheelchair accessible buses. 1 sixteen seater tail lift minibus, 1 Tail lift minibus seating 8 people, one single wheelchair vehicle that can take escorts or relatives. We run under section 19 permits which means they have to book their seat at least a day in advance. The change in regulations that a person without D1 on their licence can only drive an 8 seat vehicle is increasing our costs as it limits the number of people who can travel at any one time. In order to guarantee a service on all our vehicles we have paid drivers and volunteer drivers. If we have to use the Commercial regulations it will increase our costs to a level that we will be unable to raise sufficient funds by grants etc or the fares we charge will be unaffordable by many, many people on fixed or low incomes.


  1. Manager Certificate of Professional Competence       £2000
  2. Requirements for full D1 licence for all drivers             £1500 per driver (estimated cost)
  3. PSV Licence ‘proof of Financial Standing’ reserves       £6650 (1st vehicle) then £3700 per vehicle
  4. Higher MOT test costs and additional servicing                    £300 per vehicle per year
  5. Higher cost medical certificate (3 yearly)                                £120 per driver (per year over 60)



    Tachograph (if not already fitted)                                                          £1500 per vehicle

  6. Loss of ability to reclaim BSOG fuel rebate for eligible work           £ unquantifiable ..
  7. Insufficient voluntary drivers available to allow the imposition of new ‘interpretation’ of Section 19 permits by Traffic Commissioner will cause services to be cancelled if unable to use paid drivers. I do question how a Traffic Commissioner is able to apply this new interpretation/ opinion without judicial review.
  8. Limitation on fares charged- also created by the imposition of new ‘interpretation’, will cause very low user number services to be even more unsustainable than they currently are. Nevertheless they are of vital importance to those people who rely on them. Local government budgets will probably not allow additional grant funding to support these services.


    People wish to live independently at home for as long as possible. It is Government policy through the NHS and deliverers of social care encourage home care. Extra Care or supported housing is being encouraged for all sectors depending on income. It is also helped by the use of Disabled Facilities Grants to make their homes suitable for home care.


    It is NOT the wish of any sector to make these people prisoners in their own homes. Our charity has had to change its services because many of our passengers requested more trips to places that provide lunches – pubs, restaurants etc. This is because they do not wish to eat every meal on their own from a foil container heated in a microwave. They wish to talk to people for their own health and well being. Our services are vital for them to keep well.


    Examples of our passengers’ comments

  1. A lady rang me to say she noticed one of our buses passing by her window and asked ‘Can I use it?’. In reply I said well it is for anyone who is unable to use an ordinary bus if they cannot get to the bus stop. She replied by saying she was over 75yrs in a wheelchair and sitting by her window. I said yes you can. I will organise the bus to visit you and you can try it out. This lady was in tears and said she had not been out of her bungalow for over a year, This lady now goes out once or twice a week.
  2. A person rang to say he wanted to buy his grandmother a Christmas present and wondered if he buy her a voucher to go on the bus for the next 12 months because it is her great joy to meet the other passengers and have lunch and a chat. This person pays for ALL her journeys into our bank account by standing order to keep it topped up.


  1. Many times when the passengers book their journeys they ask about other people who travel on the bus with them. We always need to know who has gone in hospital or they have visitors who have taken them out. One person said you are the first person I have spoken to all week.


    This service is vital to many peoples’ ‘Health and Well Being’. If our costs are substantially increased we will close and many people will be left as prisoners in their own homes. Community Transport is vital to many and is vital support to our local communities to enable them to visit places, have lunch, do their own shopping etc. We need help with raising funds not obstacles.


    We need ALL political parties to support us in saying ‘Transport’ is vital to people being able to live independently in their homes for as long as possible and have a good quality of life. We you to help us by raising our profile nationally. We need you to request that ‘Lottery’ rules are changed so we can seek funding for revenue expenditure to stay financially viable. If we close through lack of funds either from various Local Authorities or grants ‘How will people visit friends, do their own shopping etc.’


    Community Transport is NOT in competition with the private sector as the fares are subsidised by grants otherwise they would be too expensive. Commercial operators are not providing a door to door service and licenced ‘taxis’ are expensive in many areas due to costs. Wheelchair accessible taxis are not provided in sufficient numbers in all areas – the vehicles are higher cost, Taxi drivers do not all like helping wheelchairs to get into taxis and be safely secured in the vehicle. RURAL areas do not all have a local taxi service at all and become very expensive.


    A trip to our local hospital by taxi if it has to wait is a minimum of £45 or if it does 2 trips is £60. The NHS is making centres of excellence so here a patient had an appointment in Plymouth Derriford NHS from Exmouth. The cost was £120 for a 7 minute appointment. This cannot be covered by the ‘attendance allowance of £33.


    I have attached an example of our timetable and trips.


    Thank you all for reading the evidence and listening to our representatives.






    Jill Elson

    Chairman, Management Committee

    Exmouth and District Community Transport Group

    23 Hazeldene Gardens

    Exmouth EX8 3JA




picture 4picture 2Exmouth Community Transport Group hands back the HUB bus after managing for the last 2 years as the HUB was developed. Jill Elson(chairman) said it had been a pleasure to look after the HUB bus that was paid for by the ‘Parishes Together Fund’ managed by East Devon District Council. We wish the new Well Being Hub created from the Budleigh Salterton Community Hospital every success. The HUB is for everyone who resides in the WEB Consortium GP’s area – Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton, East Budeligh, Otterton, Colaton Raleigh, Woodbury, Lympstone.

This is about giving patients local services provided by the CCG in partnership with the new HUB. The bus is to make sure patients can access this new facility.



Official Opening of Mamhead Slipway, Exmouth

Hugo and RNLI MamheadHugo and Chairman of EDDC Cllr Andrew MouldingMamhead Slipway all councillors plusMamhead Slipway all councillors plus East Devon MP Rt.Hon. Sir Hugo Swire, performed the official opening ceremony at Exmouth’s new £1.5 million Mamhead Slipway on Tuesday (1 August).Councillors on Devon County Council, EDDC and Exmouth Town Council and members of Exmouth RNLI were among the spectators as the MP cut a ribbon to declare the slipway ‘open to shipping’.

The new slipway provides a vital access point to the River Exe at all states of the tide and is expected to be heavily used during the current summer holidays, as well as being a state-of-the-art year-round facility for water-users.