A community transport scheme could have some of its funding withdrawn if plans by South Hams District Council (SHDC) go ahead.

Newton Abbot Community Transport has been helping local residents get out and about since 1991 and also provides a ‘ring-and-ride’ service in Totnes, Dartmouth and the surrounding areas.

But as part of three-yearly review of “key partnerships funding,” SHDC’s executive may decide not to give any more cash to the service. 

Ahead of a meeting next week, Tory councillor for Darmouth and East Dart, Jonathan Hawkins, lead member for communities said: “When the executive meet on Thursday 13 October I will be proposing that we do not continue to fund Newton Abbot Community transport based on the application they submitted, but that we continue to work with them to understand how their service helps the residents of South Hams.

“This will help us understand if they can demonstrate a need for continued funding.

“We carry out these regular reviews to help us decide if the funding is being spent in the best interests of the residents of South Hams or if it could be spent better elsewhere.

“On this occasion, I feel that we need more information to decide if Newton Abbot Community Transport should continue to be funded.”

Every three years SHDC reviews the money it gives to key local partners, known as key partnerships funding.  This is to the cash is being spent wisely and according to the terms of their agreement.

But Green Party councillor for Dartington and Staverton, Jacqi Hodgson, suggested now was not the time to consider defunding public transport initiatives.

“Community transport underpins the gaps between the main transport providers and operates at a very local level and is usually very tuned in to the individual needs in the area,” she said.

“It’s uniquely placed to be really supportive to people that sometimes can’t access any other form of public transport.

“So community transport is to be supported, not to have funding withdrawn, especially at this really critical time when other services are all being withdrawn.

“Otherwise, it just means we’re going to see more cars on the road, which is completely opposite to what we’re trying to do in terms of reducing car use if we’re going to make any headway with our addressing climate change.”

However, the council will put forward plans to boost funding for some projects including pledging more money for South Hams Citizens Advice which has been in greater demand as a result of the cost of living crisis.

Cllr Hawkins added: “South Hams District Council values its partnerships greatly, the work that many of these organisations do provides a truly important service to the public that the district council simply could not.

“From heritage and culture to transport and advice, personally I would like to offer some of these organisations a lot more, but we have a finite pot of money and we need to spend it wisely.

“I would like to give my special thanks to Citizens Advice for the essential work they do for so many people and their families.

“I would like to thank in particular the volunteers who help support these groups, their time and knowledge is an essential part of this partnership.  There will be an even greater need for their services this winter as people struggle to heat their homes and put food on the table.”

SHDC executive meeting will take place next Thursday, October 13.