Hartlepool could get a new much-needed disabled travel service

Hartlepool Civic Centre
Hartlepool Civic Centre

A charity that provides transport to help people in County Durham get out and about and to health appointments could expand into Hartlepool.

The organisation called We Are Supportive runs a community transport scheme with voluntary drivers to help residents access local services including to get to hospital and other health appointments.

Councillor Stephen Thomas

Councillor Stephen Thomas

Hartlepool Borough Council officers say it is keen to expand into Hartlepool as part of work by the council to improve access to transport for disabled people.

The council is working on six recommendations in an action plan covering issues such as a possible new travel membership club, hospital transport and a lack of wheelchair accessible taxis.

Regarding a possible new Hartlepool travel club, the council says it has a number of vehicles that could be used after school times, on a night and at weekends.

It adds: “There is interest from a provider operating a patient transport service in Durham (NHS - transport) which has a number of vehicles and volunteer drivers.

“The provider is interested in exploring options to extend into Hartlepool.”

We Are Supportive, which has 150 volunteer drivers and is subsidised by public health and Durham clinical commissioning group, has held a meeting with the council and expressed its keenness to expand into town.

It is also said to be interested in expanding its Health Appointment Car Scheme to help Hartlepool residents with disabilities get to GP, hospital and dental appointments.

Councillor Stephen Thomas, chair of the council’s Adult Services Committee, welcomed the action plan but warned some aims may not be affordable.

He said: “I think what we have come out with is some recommendations we can work with to go forward.

“I think what’s clear is much of the root problem here is financial and there are certainly areas which I think are going to be very difficult to overcome but we do have avenues to explore.

“I’m hoping in six months time when we have got an update there is some progress to report.”

Coun Carl Richardson said training and awareness of people’s needs was paramount for providers of any transport services.

The council has contacted hospital chiefs at North Tee and Hartlepool Foundation Trust urging them to provide a wheelchair accessible shuttle bus after access problems were highlighted.