June 2000 a People’s Jury was held in the Coalfield area
of East Ayrshire to identify the ways in which people within the
community could be encouraged to play a more active role. The
report highlighted infrequent and inaccessible transport as a
major barrier to social inclusion and as a barrier to participation
in a wide range of areas including the economic, social and the
cultural regeneration of the area.
The Coalfield Community Transport initiative aims to address
the needs identified by providing affordable and accessible transport
to community and voluntary groups to enable them to participate
more freely in social, recreational and community activities.
Coalfield area covers 345 square miles
in the South West of Scotland and is mainly rural with over 17
scattered settlements in diverse country often with limited access
to local resources. High unemployment means that many families
cannot access services nor afford to use public transport.
Each local community has distinct, often differing needs. Access
to transport provides an important link to friends, family and
the wider community and is a vital lifeline to retaining independence
for our older residents. The Coalfield area has an ageing population,
a generation now trapped in their homes with many never having
been to Ayr, the county town of Ayrshire 16 miles away. Our young
people also have problems accessing recreational and social activities
and many youth groups have become members to access the minibuses.
In today’s modern age of the Internet and ‘holidays
in space’ we still have young people who have never been
outside of the Coalfield area.