A local transport service, seen as lifeline for many people in and around South Hams, has been promised support to help it secure funding from South Hams District Council (SHDC).

Newton Abbot Community Transport has been helping local residents get out and about since 1991 and provides a ‘ring-&-ride’ service in Totnes, Dartmouth and the surrounding areas. 

But as part of three-yearly review, SHDC’s executive says it does not have enough information from the service to ensure its continued funding.  

The issue was discussed at an executive meeting on Thursday October 13, as members put forward plans to boost funding for some projects across the region.

Councillors agreed to extend funding for two years to the following organisations:

• SW Museum Development Trust, £4,000

• Ivybridge Ring and Ride, £5,710

• South Hams Community & Voluntary Service (CVS)£10,000

Members of the executive agreed to provide additional funding for the following:

• Citizens Advice South Hams, £70,867 (an increase of £10,000 per annum.

• South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), £28,749 (an increase of £8,000 per annum which is subject to some conditions)

Presenting the case for the increased funding, Conservative councillor for Woolwell, Nicky Hopwood, said: “Citizens Advice South Hams have played a key role in helping South Hams residents, both during the pandemic and now the cost of living crisis; giving important advice and guidance to those in need. 

“In recognition of this, I recommend that the grant is increased by £10,000 per annum to a total of £70,867. Health and wellbeing is a key strand of the Better Lives for All strategy and Citizens Advice plays a key role in delivering this.”

But Cllr Hopwood insisted they did not wish to pull funding from Newton Abbot Community Transport but they hoped to have a more detailed bid from the organisation to be able to give them further cash. 

“There is not one part of the recommendation that closes the door on this application,” said Cllr Hopwood. “But the information required was not sufficient enough to recommend approval at this time. 

“Officers will continue to work with this organisation to understand how they help residents in the South Hams and any updates can still be considered before the 2023/24 budget is finalised.

“Indeed, it would be bad practice to give any money without the right level of information being provided and it is up to each applicant to make sure that they provide what is needed by this council to enable us to make an informed decision. 

“I very much look forward to our officers working closely with Newton Abbot Ring-and-Ride to reach a satisfactory conclusion for both sides.”

Cllr Hopwood added that a meeting had been arranged between council officers and the transport service and it was hoped a resolution could be found. 

Every three years SHDC reviews the money it gives to key local partners.  This is to ensure the cash is being spent wisely and according to the terms of their agreement.