The Harborough district town’s Town Crier Pete Hollinshead launched Lutterworth Community Transport’s pioneering project in his own inimitable way at Lutterworth Ford on Friday night (March 25).
The versatile new vehicle is thought to be the first to come into service with a community transport operator anywhere in the UK.
The charity, which has been operating since the 1990s, supports people in the Lutterworth area facing rural and social isolation by providing transport for them.
Public-spirited volunteer drivers make up the backbone of the hard-working organisation as they take local people away on trips as well as ferrying them to vital appointments.
Boosted by grant funding, Lutterworth Community Transport has now bought a battery-powered Nissan MPV converted to transport a person in a wheelchair plus up to three passengers.
As most trips are local, a usable range of 150 miles between charging is proving to be ample.
Today Graeme Thomson, manager of Lutterworth Community Transport, told the Harborough Mail: “This new service for the residents of Lutterworth and surrounding villages has only been possible due to the incredible generosity of GLP Ltd, the developers of Magna Park through their Local Area Community Fund, and Leicestershire County Council.”
Cllr Janette Ackerley, representing the firm’s Local Area Community Fund, said: “We were delighted to get involved as this is a vital service as so many people can’t access essential services due to lack of transport.
Cllr Rosita Page, a county councillor for Lutterworth ward, said: “I was given a budget by the county council to spend on rural transport in my area.
“And when I heard that Community Transport were looking to buy an electric vehicle to enable them to carry people in their wheelchair this was the ideal project for the money,” she said.
“It ticks so many boxes, being green, improving access for people with disabilities and supporting the voluntary sector.”
The vehicle cost £53,000 altogether.
LACF (Magna Park) gave Lutterworth Community Transport £21,000, Cllr Rosita Page allocated £23,000 of her rural transport budget with the county council and they also received a Shires Grant from the county council for the remainder.
Lutterworth Community Transport is operated by Lutterworth Volunteer Centre, a registered charity.