Category Archives: Working For You

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.


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.



EDDC Shared House in Exmouth

St Andrews Road SharedHouse 2016Hugo and Jill at 102 October 2016







Council opens door to new and innovative low energy social housing property

Single person ‘EnerPHit’ quality approved accommodation in Exmouth is designed to help reduce heating bills for tenants

Local councillors, residents, contractors and officers from East Devon District Council attended an informal event yesterday, Thursday 6 October 2016, to celebrate the official opening of the council’s newly completed and highly innovative shared housing property for six single people between 21 and 55 years of age, at 102 St Andrews Road in Exmouth.

What makes this Victorian style terraced house stand out from other types of single person accommodation, is that it has been refurbished to exacting low energy Passivhaus design principles, which have ensured that it meets required low energy standards for EnerPHit, a highly successful approach to refurbishing buildings so that they achieve specific energy values.

102 St Andrews Road is now officially certified as a Quality-Approved Passive House, having passed a number of stringent tests. The house has excellent thermal performance qualities, requiring very little energy to heat or cool it. This in turn will reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, which will in turn mean lower heating bills for the tenants.

It is the first time that the council has provided this type of accommodation for single people and the ground-breaking decision to create it came about in response to recent welfare and benefit changes, which highlighted an urgent need to tackle fuel poverty. It has underlined the council’s resolve to help its tenants reduce fuel consumption and associated heating bills and confirmed the council’s belief that there is a demand for this type of social housing in East Devon.

The house will provide occupants with six individual bedrooms, complete with en-suite shower rooms and access to a communal kitchen and dining room. Each bedroom is furnished with a single bed, wardrobe, chest of drawers, small table and an easy chair. The kitchen is fitted out with basic cooking utensils – eg, pots and pans.

Communal areas within the property feature three pieces of artwork created by members of the local community. There is a montage of photographs, taken by young people involved with the council’s SWITCH project, which shows the Exmouth lifeboat and lifeboat tractor and a sand sculpture, created by young people on Exmouth beach. The other two are paintings done by a local community artist, Hayley Watson, who works closely with the council’s Community Development team on projects involving young people and the community group Link-in Together.

The refurbishment of the house has been undertaken by Mi-space, part of the Midas Group, who began work on the property in February 2016.

Councillor Jill Elson, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for sustainable homes and communities, welcomes the opening of this accommodation.

“A need was identified to provide housing for single people who find themselves vulnerable and insecure from their changing circumstances. The tenants will be offered a licence based on the tenancy agreement. The house will be supervised by our staff on a regular basis and any breaches of the agreement can be settled very quickly. We have provided these rooms with en suites and shared

areas to a high quality standard, that we would hope can be provided by the private sector. The house retrofitted sustainably to ensure low energy costs to the tenants.”

Amy Gilbert, Property and Asset Manager for East Devon District Council, said:

“We have had to work closely with our partners MiSpace on the delivery of this challenging project and, consequently, we have learnt a great deal in terms of producing our first Quality Approved Passivhaus property. I would like to extend my thanks to the team who have worked hard to deliver the project within a tight timeframe.

“We look forward to offering six individuals the opportunity to live in the property and who will benefit first hand from the technology that has been installed in it. We will be monitoring the house carefully in terms of savings that we are able to demonstrate and we look forward to the possibility of further projects that could be considered.”

The official definition of a Passivhaus, is a building, for which thermal comfort can be achieved solely

East Devon Conservative Councillors


Exmouth Hospital

Bed cuts: How can community hospitals survive after surgery? 


East Devon Conservatives have called for a pragmatic and collaborative approach to the threat of hospital bed closures in towns across the district and elsewhere in Devon, as local NHS bodies pursue the dual goal of massive budget savings and delivering a sustainable service for the future. 

They are seeking a unified strategy with local MPs Neil Parish and Sir Hugo Swire in a bid to secure minimal impact on community bed provision from vital financial savings, wherever they fall. They hope to find a realistic but humane solution to the current funding challenge faced by the district and the region, in common with the rest of the country. 

The Conservative Group are responding to the Your Future Care consultation launched by North, East and West Devon Clinical Commissioning Group on 7 October and running until 6 January 2017. 

They want to see assurances that any closures that may come about following the consultation exercise will have a minimal effect on health care provision in any affected communities. Local health care facilities must be preserved and must reflect the higher-than-average ratio of older people in East Devon and the rest of the county. 


And they insist that any bed closures are matched by the preservation or enhancement of social care in the home to levels that ensure the district’s increasingly ageing population do not lose out. 

They are fully aware that patients waiting for treatment can be delayed because vulnerable people not capable of fending for themselves alone cannot go straight home, and so block much-needed hospital beds. The solution, they believe, is to work closely with GP practices and the new Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), to find a pragmatic but patient-friendly solution to the funding issue. 

East Devon Conservatives fully support the efforts of local GP groups to protect and enhance facilities across the district, not only serving current needs but future-proofing services against the challenges posed by ongoing increases in patient expectations, advances in medical techniques and the emergence of more sophisticated surgical options. 

Conservative-run EDDC now has a statutory duty to protect, maintain and improve the physical and mental health and wellbeing of individuals living in, visiting and working in East Devon. This includes providing warden-controlled sheltered housing for the elderly. 


Meanwhile, Devon County Council has responsibilities for health and social care – an area that is key to the success of looking after people at home but which itself has been the subject of reduced central funding in recent times. 

Summing up the response of East Devon Conservatives to the Your Future Care consultation, Councillor Jill Elson, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Homes and Communities, said: “Much as some parties want to just say ‘No’ to the proposed cuts in beds, we believe that approach is too simplistic and unworkable. It’s unfortunate, because cuts in beds at local hospitals will save relatively small amounts of cash compared with the disproportionately high impact that such cuts will have on individual towns and communities. But we have to deal with the reality of the situation we face. 

“The Conservative Group believe that our energy is best applied to ensuring that each affected community not only retains the best possible healthcare facilities but also expands its day-care health provision so that it adds value. Any new model of care must be an improved model of care. 

“Some see this latest challenge as a threat, but handled the right way it could turn into an opportunity to improve healthcare provision for everyone in Devon, now and into the future”. 


“As a baseline requirement, we want an assurance that care for frail residents will not be compromised. But over and above that we need to find ways of upgrading healthcare for all, as well as future-proofing services to make them sustainable in the long term. 

Whilst they recognise the need for savings and for greater efficiency, East Devon Conservatives are realistic about the many challenges posed by the proposals for bed closures. 

These include:

Finding the right numbers and mix of trained staff to offer an alternative service to the traditional practice of occupying a hospital bed

  • Identifying transition funding to keep vital services in full working order whilst the changes come into effect
  • The need for alternative beds to be available for patients well enough to leave a ward but too frail to fend for themselves at home
  • Offering a range of services at local hospitals that have lost beds, so the establishment continues to make a full contribution to education, preventive medicine and diagnosis
  • An estates strategy that recognises the contribution many communities have made to creating, maintaining and equipping many local hospitals
  • Special provision for end-of-life care and mental health needs
  • Greater transparency and better communication with the public.


Jill Elson concluded: “If the alternative to bed closures is home care, then it has to be quality home care. Nothing else will do. That means the various organisations and services that offer different services across the wide spectrum of health care must learn to work together much more closely. In many cases this will involve a shift in mind-set among staff and a change of culture in the organisations themselves. 

“East Devon Conservatives will be working hard to ensure that our residents and visitors are assured of the best possible health provision, combined with the best possible value for money for the taxpayer”. 

Notes for Editors

East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire will debate Devon’s future healthcare needs on Tuesday 18 October at Westminster Hall in London. 

EDDC’s Scrutiny Committee will discuss the Your Future Care consultation at Knowle Council Offices on 24 November.


Exmouth Queens Drive

Copy of Letter to the journal (full version)

I am very concerned that a letter ‘Don’t be fooled by signs’, carried in the Exmouth Journal (29 Sept, 2016), is not only misleading but is factually incorrect.

As the author of the letter is fully aware, East Devon District Council gave full notice to all  its tenants on the Queen’s Drive site and where possible we have worked with some of them so that they can continue trading. The Railway Carriage Café reached an amicable agreement with EDDC to leave, received compensation and is now up and running elsewhere.  DJ’s Café did not respond to the council’s approaches and had repeatedly fallen into arrears on its rent.  On the day that the council finally came to take back the premises, council officers were surprised to arrive at the café at the same time as bailiffs who we learnt were there to enter and cut off the café’s gas supply.

There have been some negative statements concerning the Queen’s Drive site by a vociferous group. It is very easy to criticise from the sidelines. We welcome constructive suggestions by those who bring forward new ideas to help Exmouth to grow and change as the world changes around it.  Exmouth is Devon’s largest town.  Our population is growing and ageing and much of our economy is low paid and seasonal.  This is true of other seaside towns and they have recognised the challenge and responded to it. So too is the District Council by investing in the town.  The Strand, as an events space, and the Premier Inn, now employing more than 40 people, are successes that we can be proud of and the council is spending £1.2m on Mamhead Slipway to restore Exmouth’s leisure maritime place on the Devon coast. As Chairman of Exmouth Community College with over 2,000 students, it is important we look to the future to provide homes and jobs for our local young people.

For Queen’s Drive, the council has its plan in place to move the road and car park further back from the beach (Phase 1).  This new beach side space will contain a national Watersports centre, open air performance space, seafront business units and public areas (Phase 2).  Just as the Strand has brought new life to the centre of town, this will be a new place connected to the beach which will be safe without having to cross a busy road.  The council is currently finalising the development agreement on Phase 2 with the proposed developers of this site.

The final phase (Phase 3) of the development is the remainder of the fun park and Harbour View sites.  Having been held up by court actions for the best part of two years the council has decided that because of these costly time delays Phase 3 is worth revisiting.  Time has moved on.  The vision remains a mix of leisure uses combining indoor and outdoor attractions with good public space, play areas and all year round attractions.  We are looking to refresh the ideas for Phase 3 of the site and will bring in expertise to work with us in consultation with the people of Exmouth to make that happen.

For Phases 1 and 2 there is a clear plan.  For Phase 3 we are right not to tie ourselves to a previous developer and it’s plan, when time has moved on.

We believe in Exmouth.  We have a great vision for the town and we have continued to share this with our residents. We began this process in 2010 and we have been listening, and will continue to listen, to our residents. We must ensure that Exmouth meets the needs of all our residents and visitors so that it has the thriving economy that we all want to see. I, for one, don’t want Exmouth to become a town preserved in aspic.

Jill Elson,



Rolle College

Rolle Colle (half)I welcome the Exeter Deaf Academy coming to Exmouth. Everyone has supported the aim of having education either in the existing buildings or on this land.

As one of the people who went to Westminster with our MP, Mr Alexander and others in 2007 to reach our aim. Since 2007 many meetings have been held with Plymouth University and we now have a resolution and it has met our aim to have education on the site.  EDDC and Exmouth Town Council have been supporting all the efforts of REL as it now is with finance and advice, as did the many people who bought shares, including myself, to save it for the community. They did a very professional campaign.

The buildings have deteriorated during all this time. East Devon and Exmouth Town Council will work with the Deaf Academy to ensure it is a very good outcome for their students. I believe we as a Community will all welcome them to Exmouth. I have asked for a meeting with their Chairman of Trustees as Chairman of Exmouth Community College. REL has also arranged a meeting. I am sure many partnership arrangements with various groups and organisations will work with the Deaf Academy.