Local shoppers have given ‘bags of support’ to one of Dorset Community Transport (DCT)’s vital transport routes.
Between May and June, customers at Chard Tesco could vote for the Thorncombe weekly bus service, alongside two other community groups, to receive support through the store’s ‘Bags of Help’ scheme.
The three groups – which also included Zem Carnival Club and Somerset visually impaired cricket club – will each receive a grant from the scheme.
Members of the Thorncombe and villages bus users and supporters, who received £2,000 from the scheme, have for the past four years worked together with DCT to ensure vital bus routes into local towns keep going, in spite of multiple council funding cuts.
Locals can currently catch one of DCT’s signature “little green buses” on either the Service 14 from Thorncombe to Chard or Service 688 to Axminster via Hawkchurch on Thursdays. DCT also runs a specialised door-to-door PlusBus service for individuals who struggle to access transport to get to Bridport on market day.
For many Thorncombe residents, these buses are their only route to access basic necessities or visit friends and family. Since 2014 their existence has been threatened by county council cuts to public transport across Dorset, with a particularly large public transport cut of £500,000 in April 2016. This resulted in DCT taking on some of the services, providing a lifeline to many local residents.
Tim Christian, General Manager at DCT, says the support of the community has been key in keeping routes alive, in particular Parish Councillor David Marsh.
Mr Christian said: “David first contacted us in 2014, identifying a pressing need for community transport in Thorncombe and its neighbouring parishes. He was concerned that residents would have been left without any means of local transport, and to this day he has played a crucial role as a point of contact with bus users.
“David and the Thorncombe community were delighted to receive the Tesco grant, which will support the future continuation of the route.”
Tesco encourages its customers to bring their own reusable bags to its stores, however the scheme works by allowing customers to choose a donation towards one of three local projects when they need to buy a Bag for Life.
Tesco Community Manager Nicky Halsey said they were “proud to support the community in this way”, and added: “should anyone have a project that would benefit the local community and they could use a financial grant from us they need to apply online.”
For Service 14 and 688 timetables, as well as information on the door-to-door PlusBus service, please click here.