VOLUNTARY organisations are urged to discuss their transport plans with a rural Teesdale charity.

In a bid to increase the use of minibuses throughout Teesdale, the Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services (UTASS) is looking for details of community vehicles to link with available volunteer drivers.

Following consultation, UTASS will arrange a two-year programme with funding from the Teesdale Area Action Partnership to enable voluntary organisations, regardless of whether they own their own minibus, to provide volunteers with training appropriate to their needs.

For those unable to drive a minibus because they passed their driving test after January 1997, help would be available with passing the minibus test and getting D1 on their licence, with theory test costs and the opportunity to share several full days of driving lessons, also on offer.

For drivers who already have D1 on their licence and who would be willing to drive for voluntary organisations in Teesdale, group training courses will be arranged locally to increase their skills.

A UTASS spokeswoman said: “The views of voluntary organisations within Teesdale are sought on current barriers to rurally isolated residents having greater access to a wider range of events, activities, facilities and services.

“All suggestions are welcome.”

Call Julia Stephenson, training co-ordinator at UTASS, on 01833-641010 or email julia@utass.org.