A NEW community minibus has taken to the road in Bedale thanks to grant aid from a council fund.

The Bedale Community Minibus, a registered charity, has taken delivery of a new 14-seater minibus thanks to £24,000 from North Yorkshire County Council's Stronger Communities Fund.

Rishi Sunak MP attended the official launch.

The new bus will help the charity provide its existing services and launch a new service taking hospital visitors to the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

The hospital visiting service will run on Thursday afternoons.

Mr Sunak, who praised the work of the volunteer-run service, said: “It is very good to see Bedale Community Minibus finding new ways to serve the people of Bedale and district and I sure the new James Cook hospital visiting service will be well used.”

On Tuesdays a patient transport service is operated to the Glebe House GP surgery, with a Wednesday market run to Northallerton.

The new James Cook hospital service leaves from outside House and Home in Bedale 1pm and returns from James Cook at 4.15pm. The cost of the return journey is £7.50, bookings can be made any weekday morning on 01677 425329.

Also present at the launch was Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, North Yorkshire County Councillor, who said the grant was a “great example of how the authority could work with communities to provide better services. Community transport is one of our priorities.”

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."