A SPECIAL liftshare scheme designed to relieve isolated communities is set to expand as the appeal goes out to drivers not to travel with empty seats.

Liftshare was launched in the Masham area and has been a big success helping hundreds of residents, particularly in outlying villages. Now organisers want to use the online scheme they've created to reach a much bigger community. They approached Bedale Town Council for backing and are hoping to include the Ripon area.

Project Officer Sharron Cooney told Bedale Town councillors: "We have this online scheme, and it is a great platform but it could be way beyond what we have. |

"It is a great scheme and it is based on trust, but the more people we have the better and then we can create that domino effect and there are more opportunities. It is all part of reducing isolation for so many people in rural communities."

The scheme works by offering a free journey matching service for people who live, work and travel in the area through a secure online hub. It gets together people who need a lift and those who can offer one and will come under the banner North Yorkshire Rural Liftshare.

Mileage charges of up to 45p can be claimed. Organisers say the main aims are:

• Helping people in the community with lifts to a supermarket, a hospital appointment, a job in the next town, an education centre or social event.

• Save money by sharing travel costs

• Reduce congestion, pollution and help look after the environment

• Reduce the stress of driving by sharing the journey

• Save on car parking spaces

• There is no obligation, but mutual respect and trust is essential

Bedale Mayor councillor Andrew Hallett said: "I think in principle this is something we can support, it is something we need to address, isolation and transport problems and how difficult it can be for some residents."

Councillor Mike Barningham added: "It is a good programme to be supporting to reduce isolation, especially in the rural villages."

For more information on the scheme go to https://liftshare.com/uk/community/masham