W2W offers a ‘mainstream’ solution to rural transport problems, according to keynote speech by DEFRA Minister at the launch of the new Wheels to Work Association.
The Wheels to Work Association (W2WA) was launched in London recently at its first annual conference, with a highly positive speech by DEFRA Minister Richard Benyon.
He began by stating he was “a big fan” of the schemes, acknowledging their power to be ‘transformative’, providing “local solutions to meet local requirements” and “the power to change (the) lives” of those who use Wheels to Work.
He explained how they ticked all the boxes of priorities set out in DEFRA’s rural statement. These were “economic growth, rural engagement and quality of life” and stated that “Wheels to Work schemes fulfil all those areas.”
Benyon explained that the “Youth Select Committee on transport has recognised the need for these schemes,” and concluded, “We want Wheels to Work to be a mainstream solution for transport problems.”
The Minister joined non-governmental organisations and representatives from W2W schemes. Also attending were senior officials from the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
The delegates were given a comprehensive overview of the aims of the Association, the need for such schemes and the history behind them.
A spirit of collaboration was already in evidence on the day, with many delegates remaining after the official end of the conference, to begin the process of sharing best practice, including some larger schemes offering to help cut costs for smaller ones.
Sustainability through sharing best practice is a high priority for everyone concerned in funding W2W schemes, from local authorities to government departments, and the acquaintances made at the conference show the Association has already begun to facilitate this.
Steve Kenward, from of the Wheels to Work Association explained the delivery goal of providing transport for 12,000 people a year, in order for them to access jobs or training. “The motorcycle community has a phenomenal opportunity to support those in the transport help sector through these schemes and the potential to get 12,000 individuals to work in future.”
Nicky Bassett-Powell who is the acting national coordinator explained where the Association would go from here:
“This is such an exciting time for Wheels to Work. The coalition Government is concentrating on youth employment and how to ensure that young people in danger of becoming NEET (not in education, employment or training) are not prevented from taking up opportunities due to lack of transport. The new W2W Association will be working hard to share ‘best practice’ and encourage existing W2W schemes to look at their sustainability in order to help as many people as possible gain access to work, college and training.
“By highlighting Wheels to Work in the Government White Paper announcing the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, Department for Transport have rekindled interest in W2W from Local Authorities and several of them are now actively researching how to set up new W2W schemes. The W2W Association will be working with several councils over the coming months to advise them on setting up more sustainable models than have been seen in the past.”
The Wheels to Work Association website went live at the Conference, which can be found at the following address: www.wheels2workassociation.org
Image (left to right) Nigel Dotchin, DfT, Max Jowett, Devon W2W and W2WA Board member, Terry Deere, DfT
Notes to Editors
For additional information see video with Keynote speakers and W2WA Board members Pete Alger and Kevin Holt http://youtu.be/39Nr2_jQ3kY
Case studies from Wheels to Work schemes can be provided
For a summary of MCI involvement with Wheels to Work see: http://www.mcia.co.uk/Campaigns/Wheels-to-Work.aspx
Or contact Stevie Muir on 07989 378597