HOPES for a community-led transport scheme in Stocksfield have taken a step forward after keen locals offered their services.

A meeting was held last week to get residents’ thoughts on the possibility of starting up a community-led scheme, after the idea was put forward by Stocksfield Community Association Trading Arm (SCATA) – which carried out a survey which showed many people in the area had difficulties accessing public transport.

Around 45 people attended the meeting including county councillor Anne Dale and the vice-chairman of Stocksfield Parish Council, Paul Vickers.

Paul Harrison, who runs a similar scheme in Belford in Northumberland, gave an overview of their venture which he referred to as ‘dial-a-ride’ service, which has a mix of staff and volunteers. They now have four vehicles which the volunteers drive. Service users will pay £12 a year to join the scheme and then a recommended donation based on the length of their journey.

In support of a scheme in Stocksfield, at least 10 people in the audience indicated they would volunteer to drive if it took off.

Norman Hooks, director of SCATA, said: “This was a very constructive meeting and we were delighted with the turnout. There is clearly an appetite for a community transport scheme and SCATA now needs to look at all the options and then report back to the community, proposing a model based on these investigations. It also seems clear that the pressing need is for fairly short journeys within the Stocksfield area.”

SCATA will now consider whether it should hire a vehicle to begin with before then committing to the capital expenditure of a vehicle.