Test Valley, and Romsey in particular, will soon benefit from a brand-new minibus specially-designed to meet the needs of wheelchair-users and others with disabilities. In an historic partnership agreement, Romsey Disability Forum (RDF) and Test Valley Community Services (TVCS) are together purchasing a 15-seater Bluebird Tucana low-floor minibus, at a joint cost of over £60,000.
For a number of years, RDF operated their own dedicated minibus for their various meetings, outings and activities, but this vehicle finally gave up the ghost last summer. Since then, TVCS have been helping RDF by providing one of the minibuses in the Test Valley Community Transport Scheme to meet RDF's transport needs.
TVCS community transport manager, Dick Hewett, says: "Whilst we have been pleased to be able to assist RDF with our existing vehicles, it has clearly not been ideal for either party, yet neither of us had sufficient funds of our own to be able to make the investment in a new vehicle. "But we each had enough for the cost of half a vehicle, with the TVCS contribution coming from the reserve funds collected by the old Southern Test Valley Voluntary Transport Scheme (STVVTS) specifically for future vehicle replacement. "So we suggested pooling our resources and purchasing a vehicle jointly, a new venture for both of us and a great example of partnership working, without any call on the public purse.
"It's been a challenging exercise to define the precise specification for our new vehicle, to assess the various options and make a final selection. Now that's been done, we're all very excited by the prospect of the new vehicle being able to meet the needs of disabled people to a much greater extent than any of our existing vehicles."
The new bus will have ramp access at both the front and the rear, with removable or folding seats throughout. It will be in TVCS corporate colours, but will carry the logos and identify of both organisations, and is due for delivery sometime during May. Janet Hoskins, chairman of RDF, said: "TVCS will be managing it, thus saving everyone at RDF all the angst of looking after a vehicle. It's a really exciting development and we can't wait for the arrival of the new minibus." Dick Hewett continued: "When it is not required by RDF, who will have first priority, the minibus will available to any other groups in Test Valley who have a requirement for a wheelchair-accessible vehicle. Anyone who wishes to find out more about hiring can call me on 01264 356808, or email firstname.lastname@example.org "
Romsey Advertiser, 17th April 2009