The Staffordshire Moorlands is suffering from dwindling public transport options, with the Moorlands Connect bus and the Leek to Cheadle route losing their Staffordshire County Council subsidies from April 2018.
There is some good news on the community transport front, however, as local cement plant Lafarge Cauldon has pledged to provide free fuel for the next 12 months for the Moorlands Community Minibus Association (MCMA). The minibus is a purpose-designed 15 seat vehicle, with access for disabled passengers which plays an essential role in providing transport for elderly and disabled residents who may not otherwise be able to travel to do their weekly shopping, attend medical appointments or to visit family in the local area. Lafarge Cauldon has sponsored the community minibus service for many years so it is a great relief to locals to know this is continuing.
Ignacio Mirasol, Plant Manager at Lafarge’s Cauldon Cement Plant said: “We’re pleased to be continuing our support for the community minibus. It is used by dozens of elderly and disabled people, as well as young families, every week and without it they would not be able to access essential services. In a rural community like this, it is services like the MCMA that make a huge difference to people’s lives, not only by providing reliable transport for appointments but preventing people becoming lonely and isolated.”
Jean Powell, Volunteer at Moorlands Community Minibus Association comments: “Our minibus service really is a life saver for members of the community. Without this service, many local people, particularly the elderly, would be unable to get out and about and at worst would be confined to their own homes. We can’t thank Lafarge Cauldon enough for their continued support. Because of the company’s generosity we don’t have to worry about covering the cost of fuel, which is one of the service’s biggest expenditures. Better still the money that we are now saving will go towards providing more activities and days out for local people.”
One of the regular trips of the minibus is to The Hub in Waterhouses, where, every Friday, local residents are picked up from home and taken back afterwards. At the Hub they enjoy a ‘community lunch’ which involves a cooked dinner with dessert and socialising.
The MCMA also provides regular minibus services for Waterhouses Medical Practice, Waterhouses Luncheon Club, local community groups and for shopping trips to local towns. As well as the minibus, the MCMA provides a car sharing scheme and a minibus, where volunteers take passengers in their own cars and are reimbursed for the running costs of the journeys.