A COMMUNITY transport scheme is celebrating after winning funding to cover its costs for the next two years.

The European Regional Development Fund is giving £87,773 to East Durham Community Transport. This follows the group getting £78,822 from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.

East Durham Community Transport, based in Peterlee, has operated its minibus hire service for the area's community groups since 1989, and provides minibus driver training.

Groups can hire vehicles with a driver or provide their own driver.

Project manager Liam Weatherill said: "This is great news for the people of east Durham who use our services, and it safeguards three full-time jobs and covers the essential costs required to operate a high-quality community transport service.

"More than 120 local groups have used our services during 2005-6, and we are improving the quality and range of our services annually.

"The future promises exiting times for East Durham Community Transport, and we will continue to champion transport provision for the people of east Durham."

He added: "A recent survey, undertaken by the Community Transport Association investigating the best examples of social enterprise in the community transport sector, placed us in the top ten per cent in the UK.

"This funding will enable us to further increase our capacity to deliver services and work towards our long-term goal of becoming self-sustainable."

To find out more about the scheme, call Angela Kent on 0191-518 2633 or visit www.eastdurhamcommunitytransport.co.uk.