from the beginning
When West Berkshire Unitary Authority was formed in the early 1990’s the council identified a need for some form of community transport for the population that lived in the rural parts of the area.This was particularly necessary for the elderly or disabled members of the public who found it difficult to shop at local supermarkets or attend their clubs or societies using the available public transport.
To satisfy this need West Berkshire Council decided to provide a number of Minibuses which would be placed at strategic locations within their area. To facilitate this service the council recruited a number of volunteers who would form groups to organise the operation and staffing of the minibuses while the council would lease and maintain the vehicles.
One of the Minibuses was made available for the use of the residence of Burghfield and Mortimer and the surrounding villages. A number of volunteer drivers, escorts and administrators were recruited and formed the Burghfield and Mortimer Handybus Group to run the service.
At the beginning WBC financed the Minibuses and the operating groups charged minimal fares to cover fuel, office expense and insurance. The users of the service were able to use their travel tokens to cover the fare which was later superseded when WBC allowed the bus-passes to be used instead.
The Handybus service ran very succesfuly for more than twenty years with the vehicles being replaced every six or seven years. Unfortunately at the begining of 2016, due to financial constraints, WBC removed the concession allowing the bus-passes to be used and it was necessary for the users to pay their fare in cash. This was followed at the end of 2016 by WBC announcing that it would not be replacing the vehicles when due in January 2017 but they were going to “gift” the buses to the Operating Groups who would then be solely responsible for all costs of running the service.
This gave the Burghfield and Mortimer group a problem as, up to this point, they had operated as a loosely formed group of enthusiastic volunteers who did not have an entity that would allow them to own a vehicle nor the finances to cover the costs. To overcome this the volunteers decided to form a charity. A constitution was written and an application made to the charity commission which was granted in November 2017. The Burghfield and Mortimer Handybus is now a Charitable Incorporated Organisation number 1170252 and is run by a board of 6 trustees.
The Burghfield and Mortimer Handybus charity were then able to approach the Parish Councils and other funding organisations for support. The parish councils of Mortimer, Sulhamstead and Burghfield agreed to supply funding together with grants from other sources as shown in our donations page.
As our current vehicle is now 8 years old, and consequently the maintenance costs are rising, it was decided to purchase a new Minibus. This has come to fruition with the delivery of a new bus in January which should secure the service for the foreseeable future.