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NEWSLETTER No 68 Summer - July 2016

Dear Members,

It is the season we call summer, when the rain seems slightly warmer. Another year has passed since our last newsletter. Again South Beds Dial-a-Ride has had a rather quiet year, though this may come to a bumpy end as we now enter the phase of review of our funding from Central Bedfordshire Council. More of this later.


With the increase in requests from concerned families for us to carry passengers with dementia, we have now all undergone training by the Alzheimers Society so all customer facing staff in South Beds Dial-a-Ride have now become “Dementia Friends”. This has brought us a whole new understanding, and has also meant we have been able to assist passengers with dementia, as well as their families who thought the condition would mean some curtailment of social activities for their loved ones. We have been able to help maintain mobility, independence, and quality of life that little bit longer.

South Beds Dial-a-Ride are also active members of the Luton Dementia Action Alliance (LDAA), helping make strategy and with an action plan towards helping Luton become a more Dementia Friendly town.


Our dial-a-ride service agreement with our major funder, Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC), was due to expire in March 2016, but was extended for one year until March 2017. We are now entering the review zone for funding from 2017 onwards, where the need and quality of our service delivery is weighed against CBC’s available funding. We are working very closely with The Buzzer who operate in Leighton Buzzard and Linslade, and with Mid Beds Link-a-Ride who operate from Ampthill across the rural areas in the middle of the county, to promote our services and ensure CBC fully understand the value you place upon what we do. Many of you responded to the CBC market survey in December/January and the full and consultation in July, to make your own views known.

We hope to maintain the current level of funding, but the real world tells us there may be a reduction in financial support. We may then be faced into another increase in fares with a higher burden being carried by the user, YOU! We will keep you informed.


We are still operating our dial-a-ride scheme in Luton and have continually for the past 30 years, the past 3 years without financial support from the council responsible for elderly people’s welfare in the town. As we slowly overcome negative publicity, our service continues to expand again as our new website gets seen more and word spreads, that we are still serving the elderly people of town.

There is more bad news though. Following our complete withdrawal from Luton BC in August 2013 and therefore zero ongoing funding for us resulting in a severe cut back in transport services, the elderly and disabled of Luton were dealt a second severe blow in March this year. Luton BC announced the complete withdrawal of funding support to the ShopMobility scheme in The Mall/Arndale Centre. We understand ShopMobility are fighting for a “parachute payment” from Luton BC to keep them going while they seek alternative new funding, but jobs have been lost there, services cut, and new charges introduced. Sounds like a familiar story?  We do hope the ShopMobility scheme survives as, along with our dial-a-ride scheme, it is one of the last vital lifelines in the town for those with mobility difficulties.

Remember, South Beds Dial-a-Ride regularly visits The Mall/Arndale Centre and other locations in Luton town centre, at times which are rather more flexible than the advertised confines of the ShopMobility transport service, so please give us a call on 01525 220044.


This slimmed down route still operates 6 days per week serving Toddington to Dunstable via the villages of Wingfield and Tebworth. Passenger numbers are not terrific though, so we think it likely CBC will soon review this service to maybe operate fewer days per week.


When the 74 was last reviewed earlier this year, the 62 Saturday service was withdrawn to provide an extra 74 Saturday service. The weekday 62 service is still proving very successful.                      


One year ago we had 2 part-time drivers, Maureen and (I)Rene. They have now both decided to move into semi-retirement so are no longer with us. Due to funding uncertainties we have not yet replaced either, so will continue using Peter from the agency, and our General Manager (out of the office as an occasional driver) to fill gaps and cover holidays meanwhile.

Please leave a message anytime on our answering machine to cancel a journey. Please state clearly your name and phone number so we can indentify you and call you back on our return. Please do not leave booking requests on the answering machine. We WILL call you back to take all the details. Thank you.


As we have been unable to fill the buses for trips offered in the past 2 years, we are not currently planning day trips unless we have a large group from one organisation wishing to travel together. We do have several such groups going for monthly lunch trips whom we help out, even sometimes putting on our “bigger bus” due to high demand. Please get in touch if you fancy something like this on 01525 220044.


We have unfortunately had to cancel our last 3 coffee mornings due to dwindling bookings. We did seem to maintain good attendance for a while following our withdrawal from Luton BC, but numbers have fallen to a level where we are not be able to stage a worthwhile event. The coffee morning had been an institution for very many years, starting initially as a fund raiser, but more recently it was a pleasant social morning for chatting and meeting new people. Times do change!


We do occasionally find passengers have left something behind on our buses. Unfortunately the 2 walking sticks we currently have in our office have no names on them so we cannot return them until claimed. If you have mislaid a blue or black stick, please let us know. We also recently found a ladies ring with inlaid jewels, which we have advertised as missing but nobody has claimed it yet.


We are currently considering ways to celebrate the 30 years of our existence. Considering the many trials and tribulations over this timescale, it is a tremendous achievement to have survived and still be here to provide our invaluable services. More news of this soon.

In this poignant year, we are very grateful to a very long standing supporter of our organisation. Julie Redman and her mother before her, had served as committee members, fund raisers rattling tins outside shops, and then users of our service. Sadly Julie passed away earlier this year, but she remained a staunch supporter to the end by kindly leaving a legacy to South Beds Dial-a-Ride in her will. Thank you again Julie (and mum) for all you did for us, and may you now rest in peace.

As part of the 30 year celebrations, one of our volunteer Trustees has been growing his hair and beard for TWO YEARS, and had a sponsored shave off on 25th July. Rob is the partner of Christine, our Chairman whose father founded our organisation back in 1986. Here are the “before” and “after” photographs, with the presentation of a well earned pint of beer by, South Beds Dial-a-Ride committee member and Mayor of Dunstable, Cllr Peter Hollick.

Pics to follow....

We shall hear soon how much Rob kindly raised for South Beds Dial-a-Ride when he has totted it all up. It is still not too late to sponsor him so please get in touch if you would like to sponsor Rob.

Thank you Rob, for all your work on our management committee and making such a sacrifice for us!

Compiled by Dave Barratt - 29/7/16

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