Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert thanked the dedicated volunteers of the West Sussex Community Minibus Association at the charity’s 43rd AGM in Fittleworth on Friday (20 July).
Mr Herbert is Vice-President of the long running charity which provides minibus transport to many of the rural villages in West Sussex. The charity is wholly-run by volunteers and provides a vital link between its members and local facilities such as shops and lunch clubs.
Alistair Sheppard, Chairman for the Association, opened the AGM with words of thanks for the many volunteers, saying “It is the people who represent the success of the charity”. A network of more than 300 volunteers deliver the minibus service across 8 villages.
Mr Sheppard spoke about the progress that the charity has made and the grants won for new minibuses. The newest bus has recently been delivered to the Billingshurst branch of the Association.
Last year the charity became a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) and is managed by its volunteer Trustees.
Sir Brian Barttelot, who has been the charity’s President for more than 35 years, said that the Association had gone “from strength to strength.” He echoed the thanks and contributions made by the volunteers.
Mr Herbert added his own appreciation to the volunteer effort in West Sussex, “without which things would grind to a halt.” The MP also provided reassurance on the Government’s recent consultation which has looked at the rules differentiating commercial and non-commercial transport licences. Mr Herbert said that, following ministerial reassurances, he was confident that charities such as the Minibus Association would not be affected.
The Government published the consultation responses last week, and will announce its response in the Autumn. In its report, the Department of Transport emphasised that “the overall intention is to give clarity, so that those in the community transport sector motivated by compassion and philanthropy, rather than profit, can continue providing services that are invaluable to many elderly, isolated and disabled people”.
Nick Herbert said: “I was pleased to attend the Minibus Association’s AGM and to be able to thank[NH1] its many volunteers. It is such an important charity in the community, with more than 300 volunteers providing a vital service in our villages.
“I am honoured to be Vice-President of the Association, and I will continue to watch the new rules on licensing carefully to ensure that community minibuses are not penalised.”