A COMMUNITY minibus scheme is driving forward with a new vehicle to help improve services for residents.

Bedale Community Minibus is run by volunteers to help provide transport, particularly for vulnerable, disabled and elderly people in the local area. Richmond MP Rishi Sunak helped launch the new bus which has been bought with the help of a grant from North Yorkshire county council.

The service which dates back to 1992 now has 20 volunteer drivers and escorts with vehicles available for hire by community groups and for social outings.

On Tuesdays a patient transport service is operated to the Glebe House GP surgery, with a Wednesday market run to Northallerton and a new weekly service for visitors to James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough is running on Thursdays at 1pm. The minibus leaves James Cook at 4.15pm to return to Bedale. The cost of the return journey is £7.50, bookings can be made any weekday morning on 01677 425329.

Chair of trustees David Emison said: "Community transport services are becoming more and more important in rural areas. Trustees and volunteers who make up Bedale Community Minibus are always seeking new and innovative ways of serving our community and especially its young, elderly and those who experience mobility difficulties. We are grateful for the support we have received which enables us to offer our services."