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Source: Scotland – Highland Council

The Council’s Senior Transport Officer Ali MacDonald is pictured handing over the keys to (L to R) Driver Tony Raine; GCCS Director Annette Mackenzie and GCCS Co-ordinator Christine MacIver.

The Highland Council’s Transport Co-ordination Unit, in partnership with Gairloch Community Car Scheme (GCCS), has set up a pioneering project which will bring real benefits to the local community and deliver a cost saving to the council.

Starting later this month GCCS will operate and manage a “home to school” transport contract for their community. In doing so they will have use of a Highland Council owned vehicle for the Community Transport group’s activities at all times other than when the vehicle is operating the school run.

This means that the new minibus will be available to the community every day between school runs, during school holidays, evenings and weekends.

Highland Council has purchased the vehicle and will cover all operating costs of the home to school service, including the costs of employing a local driver, fuel and maintenance and will still make a saving in the region of £20k per annum.

The council’s Senior Transport Officer Ali MacDonald said: “The 8 seat minibus was delivered last when a special open day was held for members of the community, including parents of the school pupils who will be using the minibus. The event was well attended and there were lots of positive reactions.  The Council is excited by this project and we look forward to exploring other areas in the Highlands where similar projects can be developed and introduced.”

GCCS Director Annette Mackenzie said: “We thank the council for bringing our amazing vehicle along for the open day. Everyone was very impressed with it and the branding logos on it are extremely thoughtful. We are looking forward to working in partnership with Highland Council to make this project a success”

Chair of the Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Allan Henderson highlighted this ground-breaking project at the start of today’s committee meeting.  He said: “This is the first project of its kind in the Highlands. The Council recognises the importance of local community transport initiatives across the Highlands and this new way of providing a service and at the same time making significant budget savings is a win-win situation for us and the community.

“I would like to thank everyone involved in setting up this project for all their hard work. It is a unique example of partnership working when it comes to providing local transport. It is certainly an arrangement I would like to see replicated in other areas across the Highlands so I am particularly pleased that a similar project is in progress for the Sleat peninsula in Skye with EU funding secured for an electric vehicle.”

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