Fighting to keep Mid Beds Link-A-Ride service running

A man from Flitwick has set up a fundraising page in an attempt to keep the Mid Beds Link-A-Ride service running.
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Gareth Mackey wants to raise money to help keep the Link-A-Ride service running for residents in Mid Bedfordshire, he has set a target of raising £15,000 which he says will keep it running for two months.

The dial-a-ride service operators were grant funded before the local authority decided to introduce a competitive tender process for community transport.

Gareth was joined by other campaigners for dial-a-ride services across Central Bedfordshire at a recent council meeting to protest the contract changes.

Mr Mackey said: "I am campaigning to raise money for Mid Beds Link A Ride. After almost 30 years of serving the people of Mid Bedfordshire, Council funding for this important service has been withdrawn.

"A disputed tender process awarded the contract to another provider who are unable to operate to the same service level as Link a Ride.

"Mid Beds Link A Ride could go out of business by the end of the year, which would out 6,500 journeys in danger.

"I want Central Bedfordshire Council to realise what they have done. They should be improving the choice of travel for residents, not making it more difficult. They say they have replaced the service but it is not the same for residents.

"The initial part of the campaign is to raise £15,000 and then see if we can find alternative funding to keep the service running. Link a Ride need somewhere in the region of £7500 per month to survive.

"We want to raise enough money to keep them going until a solution to the funding dispute with Central Bedfordshire Council can be found.

"The service helps so many people, hundreds of people with complex medical needs, elderly people, people reliant on transportation for everyday life and those who are simply lonely will now be stranded."

A spokesperson for Central Bedfordshire Council said: "Clearly, many of Link-a-Ride customers will be sad to hear that Link-a-Ride are considering their future.

"We know they have provided a highly valued service to many residents over a number of years.

“As a Council, we recognise what a vital service these dial-a-ride buses provide, particularly to the elderly and disabled who are unable to use scheduled bus services, which is why we continue to contribute £250,000 towards three services in our area.

"Whilst it is true that Link-a-Ride did not win the contract for the Mid Beds service we would like to make it clear that the service is available through a different provider.

"Residents who want to use the new dial-a-ride service in the Mid Beds area can contact BRCC (also known as Greensands Community Transport) the new provider has capacity to undertake any work that is currently undertaken by Link-a-Ride.”

> Read more about the campaign outside the council officers here.