North Belfast Community Transport up and running!
An Affordable and Accessible Transport Scheme in North Belfast is now available.
From 3 July 2006, North Belfast Community Transport Ltd, a newly established company, co-owned by four North Belfast Community Empowerment Partnerships (CEPs), will open its doors in North City Business Centre.
The company, with £455,000 of funding from the EU Urban II Community Initiative Programme, has been set up to provide an affordable transport service for inner North Belfast residents and community groups.
One of the greatest barriers to employment and learning in North Belfast is a lack of suitable public or private transport. North Belfast Community Transport will operate 5 fully accessible minibuses to transport people to and from work and training opportunities.
The cross-community enterprise is co-owned by four geographical CEPs within the Urban II area, namely Cliftonville, Greater New Lodge, Lower North and Upper North. It is hoped that the scheme will not only provide a much-needed transport service for the area, but also build relationships between neighbouring communities and tackle issues of travelling within North Belfast.
The funding from Urban II has enabled the company to employ a Transport Manager, Assistant Manger and 5 full-time drivers. It is hoped that a further 50 volunteer drivers will be recruited and offered free MIDAS and PATS training.
Murdo Murray, Chief Executive of North Belfast Partnership, commented:
North Belfast Partnership, as implementing body of the EU Urban II Programme in inner North Belfast, is delighted to see this company up and running. The CEPs, with assistance from Urban II, have been working hard to develop this initiative since 2004 and it is great to see it finally “on the road”. The project is an excellent use of EU Structural Funds, as it provides transport options to link unemployed people with job opportunities; provides employment for office staff and drivers; provides training to drivers leaving a legacy of skills in the area and as a cross community enterprise will hopefully increase communications and build relationships between communities”.
X, one of the Directors of North Belfast Community Transport Ltd, is looking forward to getting up and running:
“The arrival of 5 minibuses operating in North Belfast will make all the difference to those who have previously found it difficult to travel within and outside the area. The buses are available to community groups and individuals attending training courses and getting to or looking for work. All minibuses are fully accessible and drivers will be on hand to assist anyone who needs help getting on and off. We want as many people living in North Belfast to know about this service, especially those who find it difficult to get out and about. We are delighted to officially launch this service, which has already been welcomed by many local residents”.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer driver for North Belfast Community Transport, or would like more information on the service it provides, please contact Tina McMillan, Assistant Manager, 90752990.
Notes to Editor:
The European Commission approved the Urban II Community Initiative Programme for Northern Ireland on 18 December 2000. North Belfast Partnership is the implementing body for the Inner North Belfast EU Urban II Community Initiative Programme. This means that they are responsible for delivery of the programme on the ground. €17m of EU Structural Funds has been awarded to the area.
Urban II aims to:
“Regenerate North Belfast into a vibrant, safe and viable urban community for its people, its environment and its economy'.
To date £6,555,000 has been committed to 111 projects across North Belfast targeting physical and environmental dereliction, access to employment, Social Economy support and community capacity.
North Belfast Community Transport Ltd has been funded under Measure 2.1 Accessibility of the Urban II Programme. The aim of this measure is:
“To link the population of inner North Belfast to opportunities in the mainstream economy”
The objectives are:
Ø To improve literacy and numeracy standards in the area
Ø To provide clearer links between disadvantaged people and the opportunities available in the mainstream economy
Ø To remove barriers to employment, especially for women
Ø To provide innovative transport options to link unemployed people with job opportunities in the urban economy
Ø To provide skills training relevant to traditional areas/sectors in the regional economy.
Community conflict has hindered freedom of movement within North Belfast and this impacts upon the availability of those currently economically inactive to access training and employment opportunities. Urban II has facilitated the development of this new company to manage a centralised community transport project for the area in attempt to ensure sustainable delivery.
In advance of this network project, Urban II had supported the pilot ‘Ardoyne Community Transport’ Initiative with a grant of £144,000 to purchase a minibus, scooters and bicycles. This project has proved very successful and is sharing best practice lessons with the new company and agreeing mechanisms to ensure future co-ordinated delivery within the target area.
For more information on projects funded through Urban II, or the programme itself, please contact Julie Quinn on Tel: 028 90752990 / 07841903370 or visit the North Belfast Partnership website at www.nthbp.org