I want to showcase Woking Community Transport and, in particular, their Bustler Dial-a-Ride service.

Ever since I was first elected as Woking’s MP in 2010, I have supported this terrific organisation and its work to help and support residents. 

Last week I attended Woking Community Transport’s 32nd annual general meeting, where I spoke to many clients and volunteers and employees of this amazing local social enterprise and where we discussed at some length the proposal from Woking Borough Council to remove all its funding for the Dial-a-Ride service.

I have liaised with Woking Community Transport (WCT) and Woking council to try to ensure WCT get their voice heard at a senior level at the council, and I was disappointed to hear at the AGM that the council had not followed up on their recent meeting with WCT as they had promised to do. 

WCT has just under 4,000 members – with an increase last year – and our increasingly elderly population clearly needs access to appropriate transport for GP visits, hospital appointments, weekly shopping and, indeed, for important social activities.

I am concerned Woking Council haven’t taken fully into account the vital support the services provided WCT, and also, of course, by Woking ShopMobility and by Citizens Advice Woking, give to the most vulnerable in our community.

Many readers will know I have helped to secure a new state-of-the-art diagnostic centre at Woking Community Hospital – which, when opened next near, will save residents more than 30,000 trips a year to Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals for a range of diagnostic tests. 

Moreover, I continue my important campaign to try to secure a direct and regular bus service from Woking to Ashford Hospital – which, if successful, will help many people to get to Ashford Hospital by affordable and accessible public transport.

But one thing that remains clear is that WCT’s offer of a door-to-door service for those with mobility issues is something no other operator or service can provide at an affordable price. 

I have met with users of the Dial-a-Ride service over the past few weeks and they are adamant this is an absolutely essential service for many of them. 

I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of all Woking residents, to express our sincere gratitude to the whole team at Bustler – from the amazingly dedicated drivers for whom nothing is too much trouble, to those based in the office ensuring the smooth running of the whole operation and liaising with the professional drivers, with the volunteers and with the members. 

From the top down, this is an organisation that cares deeply about people and that delivers a magnificent service.

I will continue to work very closely indeed with Woking Community Transport to ensure their voice, and the voices of their vulnerable clients, are heard loud and clear by Woking Council.