Category Archives: Exmouth & District Community Transport Group

Exmouth & District Community Transport Group – Jill Elson is the founder and Chairman of this group

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 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.




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.



Ring & Ride 25 yrs.

JME 25 yrs Mag Centre Nov 15 v2Exmouth and District Community Transport Group Celebrates 25 yrs of service.

This service has reached its 25 year milestone. They have carried many people who would not be able to be independent without this service. It is a Community Bus transport service for those who are unable to walk to a bus stop could be in a Town or Village.

Jill Elson founded this service and with the help of many people, charities, businesses we have reached this milestone. Thanks to the support of Devon County Council, East Devon District Council, Town Councils and Parish Councils in our service area. In addition to these Councils, the trustees, management committee and co-ordinators with others have managed to raise thousands of pounds in grants, donations and sponsorship. We still need to raise over £150,000 per year to keep these services running.





Jill Elson

Ring and Ride services

WEB Bus Livery 2015

Exmouth and District Community Transport Group

Exmouth and District Community Transport Group has thoroughly reviewed all of its services to make them more flexible and relevant to our passengers. This is also to make our services more sustainable for the future.

Exmouth and District has a growing number of elderly and people with mobility difficulties living in their own homes. Many of these people are living alone or their partner is unable to take them out of their homes. This means many more people are at risk of becoming isolated whether in a town or rural village.

After many conversations with our regular passengers. We made the decision to return our Devon County Council leased vehicle and not to have a school contract which limited our flexibility. We have also had long discussions with our 2 Community Hospitals Leagues for Friends.

Our customers were saying that they like to socialise with others, they wish to visit local shopping centres as well as the supermarkets and Town Centres. Their personal carers are not always able to have them ready to travel by 10am and would like an opportunity to travel in the afternoon.

Starting in August we will be offering Ring & Ride to Town Centres morning and afternoon with the availability of visiting the seafront in an afternoon. Local lunches once per month. Excursions to Sidmouth, Newton Abbot and Exeter monthly. Other trips are organised to various destinations including a lunch. These are at the cost of the trip and passengers pay for their own lunches. This is with our Community Bus.

Budleigh Community Hospital is being redeveloped into a Health and Well Being HUB and Exmouth Hospital is being upgraded to provide the medical beds, x ray, minor operations with an Urgent Care Centre. Budleigh Salterton Town Council led a bid with other surrounding Villages and Exmouth Town Council to the ‘Parishes Together Fund’ and were successful in buying a small MPV with tail lift.  We are working in partnership with both Hospital Leagues of Friends to use this bus to provide transport to both destinations and they have agreed to pay a substantial sum to the running costs of the bus to ensure the fare will be ‘affordable’ to all their clients.

We do have another small MPV with Tail lift for individual appointments – health, visiting friends or relatives, attending weddings etc. This is becoming more popular with fares charged to cover the cost – not all return fares because on occasions their relatives or friends may take them or pick them but are unable to do both journeys.

We also have many bookings from residents from residential or nursing homes to give them a local trip or further away. Some people just wish to see the seafront and have an ice cream – which for many is a real treat.

Thanks to Wendy and Mel our co-ordinators for a great deal of work in talking to our customers and many other local organisations. Making a new timetable work was not easy and will be kept under review. We are very grateful to our voluntary drivers and are advertising for more. We still make many grant applications, seek sponsorship, and donations to guarantee we will be here into the future with a need to replace the buses when needed and to pay the upkeep of them.

Jill Elson Chairman of the Exmouth and District Community Transport Management Committee

Telephone 01395 26 66 62 between 10am and 12 noon or between 1pm and 3pm for information



New HUB Bus for clients within WEB GP Consortium area

WEB Bus Livery 2015As Chairman of the Exmouth and District Community Transport Group I welcome a new bus to our fleet. This bus was paid for by the ‘Parishes Together Fund’ and the running costs will be met by fares and the Exmouth League of Friends in partnership with Budleigh Salterton League of Friends. This is for taking people to hospital appointments, other health appointments, attending the proposed Budleigh Salterton HUB being created from the Budleigh Salterton Community Hospital now under development. A very exciting project that will benefit many people.

Proposed Well Being Centre – former Budleigh Salterton Hospital

WEb Bus Side with Ray B, Mel, Jill, SteveWe have had new bus added to our fleet. A grant was awarded by the ‘Parishes Together Fund’ – money from East Devon District Council and Devon County Council supported by all the Towns and Villages within our service area. A big thank you from us. This new bus is to provide transport for clients to attend the Well Being Centre, Exmouth Hospital and other medical appointments. It will have to be booked a day in advance, longer if possible, and a fare will be charged. We are very grateful to Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton Leagues of Friends to provide the monies required to meet the running costs after the fares have been collected so that it is ‘affordable’ to patients.

Exmouth and District Community Transport Group has moved to new offices

edctg2014Exmouth  and District Community Transport has moved offices to Unit 16 Dinan Way Trading Estate.  Telephone Number 01395 26 66 62 We currently have 3 buses – 2 16 seater and one small Whizabout that takes 1/2 wheelchairs with escorts used for medical appointments, individual appointments to care homes, solicitors, holidays etc. We will be taking delivery of another vehicle similar to the Whizabout to provide transport to the new Budleigh Salterton Well Being Hub being created at the Community Hospital and those who need to travel to Exmouth Hospital. This will be delivered in January 2015.

These new offices are on the ground floor at the front. These offices will give easy access to those customers who wish to visit and discuss our provision of transport for those with a mobility problem and cannot walk to the nearest bust stop or who live in an isolated rural area.

We are looking for volunteer drivers and a volunteer office workers. The offices have easy access for a registered disabled person and a disabled toilet facility. We need help with answering the telephone, filing etc. All our bookings are by telephone. Training will be given.

WEB Consortium

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.

I have been working closely with the new WEB Consortium of our local doctors to help meet the challenges of providing new services and improving others. The WEB Consortium covers Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton, East Budleigh, Otterton, Colaton Raleigh, Newton Poppleford, Woodbury and Lymsptone. As Chairman of the Exmouth and District Community Transport Group we have been working with the WEB to ensure people are able to travel to the new proposed Enhanced Day Care to be provided at Budleigh Salterton Hospital and for all clinical work throughout the service area to Exmouth Hospital. Cllr Steve Hall has been leading the bid to the ‘Parishes Together Fund’ to buy a small tail lift minibus – similar to our Whizabout – at a cost of £25,000. We will have to make applications for grants in addition to charging a fare for the £30,000 per annum running costs. These can be reduced by using volunteer drivers so if anyone wishing to volunteer please contact us on 01395 26 66 62 between 10 -12 and 1 – 3 Mondays to Fridays. We will be signposting people who are attending either hospital to the existing voluntary car services that are already working very hard and we will be concentrating on those who are unable to use a car for any reason including using a wheelchair, frame etc.

If there is anyone who would like volunteer to help us in applying for grants, raising funds or could form a ‘Friends of our buses’ please contact us.