North Wales’s first ever community car club has been launched in Corwen and its sprightly lean ‘green’ driving machine has been given the thumbs-up by two of the region’s top politicians.
Clwyd South Assembly Member Ken Skates and MP Susan Elan Jones were at the launch of the Edeyrnion Community Car Club and took the chance to put its brand new all-electric Nissan Leaf through its paces.
The arrival of the Leaf is seen as the final piece in the jigsaw of their ambitious £100,000 rural transport programme by South Denbighshire Community Partnership.
It joins the SADCP’s the 16-seater community minibus and Toyota Rav 4 hybrid SUV, used for dial-a-ride and meals on wheels services, in a three-vehicle fleet to serve the Edeyrnion area surrounding Corwen.
The transport initiative is one of a series of SDCP projects which cover social inclusion, improving access to services and renewable energy generation.
SDCP have been successful in drawing down over £450,000 in funding with Big Lottery Wales providing £350,000 over four years and local rural regeneration agency Cadwyn Clwyd, also based in Corwen, a further £52,000 over three years from their LEADER project funding together with £42,000 from the Bus Services Support Grant.
The LEADER fund is part of the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020, which is financed by the Welsh Government and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).
LEADER is a fund for rural areas in Wales to explore innovative new approaches and experimental technologies to tackle poverty, create jobs and drive sustainable economic development.
Ken Skates said: “Corwen has become a real hub for an innovative integrated rural transport system thanks to the vision of the South Denbighshire Community Partnership.
“The car club is the first scheme of its kind in North Wales and one of only a handful anywhere in Wales and I’m delighted that the Welsh Government has been able to help.
“The Leaf is a fantastic asset and can open up opportunities at a very reasonable price for those who find themselves without a car but do have a driving licence.
“I’d also like to urge anyone who might be able to help the Partnership by giving a few hours as a volunteer driver to get in touch. You could make a real difference.”
Susan Elan Jones MP said: “I visited the South Denbighshire Community Partnership team just a few weeks ago to hear about its growing transport fleet and the fantastic services they operate in Corwen and its surrounding areas.
“They are doing a wonderful job and the Leaf is a great addition to their transport programme.
“Community projects like this open up so many opportunities for my constituents in Corwen and the wider Edeyrnion area which they might not otherwise have, particularly for older people and those who could find themselves isolated. Organisations like SDCP and the work they do are real lifelines.”
To join the Community Car Club applicants must provide a driving licence, proof of identity and residence such as a passport and utility bills. The subscription is £50 a year and trips are charged at £1 an hour and 25p a mile.
The Leaf, like all electric cars, is automatic and club membership provides insurance, breakdown cover, servicing and MoT and there are two electric charging points at the rear of Canolfan Ni and two more due to be installed.
SDCP’s transport co-ordinator, Steve Shuttleworth, from Gwyddelwern, said: “When we applied for the funding the criteria stated that it had to be sustainable and environmentally friendly and it had to be electric so that was my brief.
“We did our research with other car clubs in Wales and across the country and chose the Leaf because it is a family car, it has a range of at least 155 miles which is vital in hilly terrain where batteries can drain more quickly.
“It’s a lovely car to drive, it’s spacious with five seats, it has minimal impact on the local environment, it’s five star and very comfortable and electricity is going to be a major player in the motoring of the future.
“There is a lot of transport poverty here which leads to social exclusion.
“Bus services are poor and people must be given the chance to travel, just to visit family and friends and for social reasons.
“The beauty of the car is that once you are behind the wheel you are autonomous and have the freedom of movement and travel that everyone else has.
“You might not be able to afford a car and go places but if you join the Edeyrnion Community Car Club you are back on the road for £50 a year – it’s a good deal and I’m certainly going to join.”