Last month, CTA held our annual Scotland Conference, a chance for members in Scotland to come together, share ideas, meet one another and meet the CTA team. As with previous years we were grateful to run the event with the support of the Royal Bank of Scotland at their excellent Gogarburn Conference Centre in Edinburgh.
During the day we held a number of panel discussions with speakers from across the wider transport and third sectors as well as representatives from the Scottish Government and local authorities across Scotland.
To kick the day off we heard from Tom Davy, the Bus and Local Transport Policy Team Leader at Transport Scotland. Ahead of our first session on how the Transport (Scotland) Bill will affect community transport, Tom took us through the main points of the Bill that are of most relevance to the work of our members. We were happy to hear Tom reiterate the strong relationship between Transport Scotland and the CTA and their support for the work of our members. A huge thank you to Tom and his colleagues from Transport Scotland for joining us at the event and speaking with our members directly.
How will the Transport (Scotland) Bill affect community transport?
The Scottish Parliament is currently considering the Transport (Scotland) Bill which will bring several distinct reforms to transport in Scotland including the introduction of Low Emission Zones and investment in the use of technology to improve access to public and shared transport. The first session of the day discussed the opportunities and challenges the Bill presents for community transport and the common interest we all share in making transport more accessible and inclusive in Scotland.
To start this session off, we heard from Suzanne Lau, CTA’s Policy Executive, who looked at CTA’s views on the Bill and the challenges and opportunities it presents for community transport.
We also heard from Ruth Mendel, Policy Officer at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau who looked at their experiences of clients using public transport and the Citizen’s Advice Bureau’s perspective on the specifics of the Bill. Vincent McInally, Team Leader at Sustainable Glasgow spoke about the introduction of Low Emission Zones, noting the areas of discussion yet to be resolved, balancing the need for transport and clean air. Stuart Hay, Director of Living Street’s Scotland, concentrated on the Bill’s effect on pedestrians, noting that in his opinion the Bill doesn’t go far enough in protections for those in wheelchairs or using prams. Lastly, we heard from Martin Higgitt, Communities Work Stream Lead at CoMoUK who spoke about Mobility as a Service and the opportunities for community transport to take advantage of advances in smart ticketing technology.
Take a look at their slides:
Commissioning and Community Transport
The debates over the last year on the use of section 19 and 22 permits have shone a light on commissioning practices and asked if they are sufficiently tuned in to recognising the distinctiveness of community transport services and the unique social value our sector creates. In this session, we heard from a panel of speakers with experience of commissioning and community transport, looking at their thoughts on the relationship between community transport providers and commissioners.
The session was started, and chaired, by Rachel Milne, Chair of the CTA’s Scotland Committee and CTA Trustee who spoke about her years of experience in community transport and her personal views of commissioning. Posing questions that we should all be thinking about, Rachel highlighted the importance of recognising the specialist nature of the services community transport providers are able to provide. David Brown, Project Officer (Public Transport) at Stirling Council, discussed the importance of ‘de-muddying the waters’ surrounding the recent consultation relating to section 19 and 22 permits. Speaking from the perspective of Local Government, David highlighted the struggle of needing to tighten the purse strings when it comes to commissioning. David Hunter, Transport Planning Consultant and Member of the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland, spoke about his role in setting up Edinburgh’s Public Social Partnership in 2016 and the ups and downs of that process. David stressed the importance of community transport and councils working in partnership to deliver transport services, but noted that the success of this is highly dependent on the willingness of councils to increase funding to community transport groups.
We also heard from Andrew Stewart, Health and Transport Action Plan Programme Manager NESTRANS/Aberdeenshire Council who looked at the intersection of health services, community transport and concessionary fares. Andrew discussed the huge benefit that supporting community transport providers in delivering non-emergency patient transport can have, pointing to his own experiences and CTA’s 2017 report on how involving community transport in NEPT provision can actually save commissioners significant amounts of money.
Take a look at their slides:
Demonstrating Your Impact
After lunch, and a great opportunity for participants to network, catch-up with colleagues and meet new people, Kira Cox, CTA’s Project Manager, and I led a session on how community transport providers can effectively measure and demonstrate their impact.
Drawing on examples from across the sector, this session looked at ways in which community transport can prove that they have the enormous impact on their communities that they say they do. During the session we studied the importance of creating a theory of change, the sort of data and stories organisations need to gather, and tips on how to gather and present this data.
Tackling Loneliness and Isolation – the new national strategy and the impact of community transport
Scotland led the way in committing to a strategic approach to tackling loneliness and isolation and the Scottish Government’s consultation earlier this year highlighted the contribution of community transport in reducing loneliness. The UK Government also published its loneliness strategy in October, and the Welsh Government recently ran a consultation on their own strategy. In this session, our panel looked at how community transport fits into this renewed effort to combat loneliness and isolation, both by the Scottish Government and more widely across the UK.
Our first speaker on the panel was Brian Sloan, Chief Executive at Age Scotland, who spoke about the work of Age Scotland in working with older people to prevent loneliness and to help those who do feel isolated. Brian looked at the importance of frequent access to transport in enabling older people to get out into their communities, meet new people and reduce levels of loneliness and isolation. This was something that resonated with CTA members who experience the huge benefits of accessible and inclusive transport every day. We also heard from Nicola Hanssen, General Manager at ROAR Connections for Life. Nicola’s inspiring work with ROAR gave her a strong understanding of the need for connectivity amongst Scotland’s older citizens. Going beyond a standard presentation, Nicola had participants out of their chairs and balancing on one foot, with eyes closed and bobbing our heads like chickens! This wasn’t just for her own entertainment, but to demonstrate those simple, physical tasks which, if unachievable, can severely limit an older person’s quality of life. CTA look forward to working with ROAR in the future.
Closing the panel discussion was Bronach Hughes, Policy Officer, Equalities Unit in the Scottish Government. It was great to hear the Scottish Government’s enthusiasm and openness to tackling loneliness and social isolation. Bronach took us through the Government’s process for gathering opinions from individuals and groups, such as CTA and its members, who responded to their strategy.
Take a look at their slides:
And that was a wrap! Amidst an air of uncertainty surrounding the UK Government’s consultation on the future of section 19 and 22 permits, our Scotland Conference was a great opportunity to come together, hear from each other and renew our commitment to accessible and inclusive transport. We’re grateful for everyone who attended and contributed to the day, and of course to the Royal Bank of Scotland for their continued support.
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