Croydon Accessible Transport (CATS) - a Borough wide transport charity that provides cheap and accessible minibuses to over 165 local community groups - faces closure after the Council slashed its funding for a second time in a year.
The community transport service provides cheap hire of accessible minibuses to community groups across Croydon. This allows groups to run transport services to local lunch clubs and provides a network of shopping bus services for older people who do not have access to their own cars. It also provides accessible transport to residents with limited mobility such as Croydon Disability Forum and the Enterprise Swimming Club.
In September last year the Council took away a school transport contract from CATS and handed it Hackney Community Transport, a company that does not provide any community services in Croydon. The loss of funding has led to a number of redundancies, but CATS has still been able to provide community transport services to its member charities.
Over Christmas CATS learnt that the community grant that has supported the charity for several years will also be withdrawn at the end of March. Without this money CATS will become financially unsustainable.
At the Council meeting last July Cllr. Simon Hall (Cabinet member for Finance and Resources) gave a commitment to work with CATS to ensure Croydon retains a community transport service. Since then CATS has had one meeting with Council officers where warm words were exchanged but there was no written commitment regarding the future of the service.
Cllr Yvette Hopley (Shadow Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care) said:-
“This seems to mirror the situation Croydon Carers Centre find itself in since the Council took the decision to redevelop its base. Tony Newman’s Labour Council are very good at warm words but there never seems to be any action or commitment to get things done. We are now weeks away from two valuable local community groups going out of business whilst the Labour Council dithers. Tony Newman is quick enough to build on our green spaces and pour millions of pounds into speculative property acquisitions. When it comes to our lonely and isolated widows and their carers, he is not so quick to act.”