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Community service Jubilee bus launches in Thatcham

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A community transport group has launched its new ‘Jubilee Bus’ in Thatcham.

The service, run by Volunteer Centre West Berkshire, will begin operating in the coming weeks across both Newbury and Thatcham.

The bus has been adapted to be “fully accessible” for the new book-a-ride service.

The new Peugeot Jubilee Bus has been launched
The new Peugeot Jubilee Bus has been launched

The launch took place on April 22 at the Thatcham Town Council offices at 9am and took a short ride to Woolhampton.

The new service will provide an opportunity for those who are unable to use public transport to access local town centres for shopping, attend appointments and meet friends.

In attendance was the mayor of Thatcham John Boyd, as well as Thatcham town councillors Richard Foster (Lib Dem, Thatcham Colthrop and Crookham) and Owen Jeffery (Lib Dem, Thatcham Central).

Director of Volunteer Centre West Berkshire Garry Poulson said: “We have a great partnership with West Berkshire Council’s community transport department. They fully appreciate the enormous value of supporting community transport groups in the district.

“We are very grateful to West Berkshire Council for the investment that it has made in the service that will support older, less able people to go about their business in the two towns.”

Volunteer Centre West Berkshire has provided a ‘Handybus' service for residents since 1986.

It said that, prior to the pandemic, almost 60,000 journeys were made using these services.

The bus was funded through the council's capital grant fund, which the council said is available for all local community transport operators to bid for.

West Berkshire Council executive member for planning, transport and countryside, Richard Somner (Con, Tilehurst South and Holybrook) said: “The council continues to support community transport schemes and has allocated £55,000 in funding this year to help local providers deliver services, as well as making grants totalling £50,000 available for capital projects each year.

“Community transport continues to be available across the district, and remains a valued service by those who use it.

“We believe it promotes a sense of community in an environmentally friendly way and also builds on incredibly valuable services that all local community transport groups provide for residents across West Berkshire.”

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