Aberdeenshire councillors have approved more than £300,000 in grants for the delivery of community transport projects.
Back in 2008 the Aberdeenshire Community Transport Initiative was established and took over the grant distribution to community-based rural transport projects from the Scottish Government. Seven local groups benefit from these grants, which fund up to 75% of project costs.
On Wednesday, members of the Policy and Resources Committee approved grants for the 2017/18 financial year, totalling £341,000.
The groups who will be supported by the extension are Ballater Royal Deeside Ltd, Banffshire Partnership Ltd, Buchan Dial-a-community bus, Mearns Community Transport, Mid Deeside Ltd, Silver Circle and RVS Aberdeenshire.
Members also approved, in principle, to the funding for these groups for the subsequent two financial years, in line with inflation and in accordance with state aid rules.
Also approved was the establishment of a grant fund for small one-off awards, to be used to support projects with emergencies or to contribute towards pilot costs for new initiatives.
Chair of the Policy & Resources Committee Cllr Richard Thomson said: “Community Transport Initiatives reach far beyond their headline objectives. As well as providing links in rural communities, they contribute greatly to social inclusion, to the delivery of our Local Outcomes Improvement Plan, and are a cornerstone of the Aberdeenshire Passenger Transport Strategy.
"At its heart is the objective of improving the quality of life for those without private means of travel. Doing what we can to help ensure that these lifeline services run in rural communities is an important role of this committee.”
Committee vice-chair, Cllr Stephen Smith added: “We discussed ‘communities’ at length in committee today. From these transport projects to formalising our relationship with the Third Sector, to working with our partners in achieving local outcomes.
"It is clear that communities are integral to everything we do, be that across Aberdeenshire or communities as they operate at a more local level. These transport projects provide vital and valued services and it is a pleasure to back them where we can to give them stability and direction for the coming years.”