Council bids for £3m to improve transport

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RUTLAND County Council is making a £3m bid to improve transport across the county.

Coun Janine Rodger (Con) told a cabinet meeting that the county council is planning to bid for the Government money as part of the local sustainable transport fund bid.

The Department for Transport has a £560m pot of money and local authorities have been invited to apply for grants of up to £5m.

The deadline for the first round of bids is April 18 and Coun Rodger said it was important Rutland’s bid was among them.

She said: “We want to go in the first tranche of bids and submit an application.

“The reason to do it in such a short timescale is that the money would be forthcoming in this financial year and we would be able to move forward with some very positive and worthwhile projects.”

Decisions will be made by June on first round bids.

Second round bids have to be submitted by February 24, 2012, and decisions wouldn’t be made until May next year.

If the bid is successful, most of the money will be used to expand the CallConnect bus scheme, in which villagers telephone to book the bus.

The county council first joined the CallConnect scheme in July 2010 in partnership with Northamptonshire County Council and Lincolnshire County Council.

At the moment the scheme only runs between villages on the edge of the county like Tickencote, Stretton, Barrowden and Ryhall.

Coun Rodger said: “CallConnect in the east of the county has been very successful so I think this is an important project but a huge amount of work does need to be done in a short amount of time.”

Council leader Roger Begy (Con) added: “I think this is a very important scheme.

“This pot of money is a very good way to assist us in delivering a good public transport service.”

The money would also be used to launch a bus service between Rutland Water and Oakham and Uppingham, extra cycle depots, cycle route upgrades and an Oakham sustainable transport interchange, as well as marketing.

Members of the cabinet agreed that the bid would be submitted by Coun Rodger and the strategic director for places Aman Mehra.

Lincolnshire County Council launched the CallConnect scheme in Stamford in 2009 in conjunction with Northamptonshire County Council. A joint scheme with Peterborough City Council was also launched in April 2010 to expand the links between villages.