Plans for Bridport to have its own car club

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PLANS are afoot for an established ‘hire by the hour’ car club to come to Bridport.

Co-cars operates across the South West with its headquarters in Exeter.

It aims to provide sustainable mobility for all by operating out of locations in Dorchester, Salisbury, Cran- brook, Exeter, Newton Abbot, Chagford, Plymouth, Truro and Falmouth.

Now, the team at Co-cars wants to bring a base to Bridport for residents to be able to have the use of their cars.

Mike Hodgson, founder and managing director of Co-cars, came to speak to members of Bridport Town Council with the idea of coming to the town.

He said: “We have been talking to Bridport Co-housing about Co-cars (having their vehicles based at their site near Bridport Hospital), but I am also interested in cars being in Bridport itself (the town centre).

“We are in Dorchester and we have talked to Dorset County Council about options.

“Bridport has got quite a name for itself in terms of what it does and aspirations seem to fit quite well with what we are interested in.

“What we want to do is have a think about where we could put one in the centre and we want to do a bit of promotion and events to see if people are interested – it would be a car for Bridport.

“If we had one at the co-housing and one in town, that gives you a bit of resilience in terms of at least there is another car around.

“Ideally you will have more cars, but obviously we have got to be realistic.”

Mr Hodgson explained that they would want a central location on the road for the car, with its own dedicated space and electrical charging point.

Cllr Dave Rickard suggested one of the electric charging bays in East Street car park as he felt that the use of them doesn’t warrant having two all the time, but Cllr Ros Kayes suggested Bucky Doo Square would be an ideal central location.

Those who want to use the car join Co-cars for £25 a year and are able to book online via smartphone when they want to use it, and unlock their reserved hybrid car with their smartcard before entering a PIN number to drive it.

When they are finished they just return the car to its dedicated parking bay.

Membership covers fuel, insurance, breakdown cover, road tax and maintenance. It costs £3.75 per hour and 15p per mile to hire the car, or day rates from £25.

The scheme helps to combat congestion, emissions and parking problems, while also giving mobility to people.

Cllr Kayes said that this could help commuters in the midst of buses being cut if Co-cars could offer an A to B service, rather than just the A to A option they currently offer.

She said: “In the winter, the train service from London stops in Dorchester at about 8.15pm but the last bus back to Bridport leaves at 7.15pm, so we have had a lot of people who commuted to London and were unable to get back.

“If you had a system where you had a car in Dorchester that you could leave in Bridport, and then possibly even drive back, I think there would be a massive use of that.

“A scheme like this, if you were able to get from A to B, would revolutionise transport for people. The issue is there are people who cannot commute. It would be wonderful if we could do car shares based on this type of thing and take several people and come back again and do that as their daily commute.”

Mr Hodgson said that they would have to explore the option of A to B and that they are increasingly getting approached – including from many major employers – with the same request.

Cllr Julian Jones highlighted that it is not a solution to buses between Bridport and Dorchester and that it is more important to get that service up and running.

Cllr Dave Rickard said: “One of the problems in Bridport is that we are basically five or six parishes joined together and most of the problems we have are people who live in the outer parishes.

“If they have to walk into Bridport to get a car, that is going to prevent people from using it as they have to get to town first.”

Mr Hodgson explained that they do have a number of people who cycle to the cars and chain them up on the Co-cars sign post before taking the car.

To find out more about the scheme, visit www.co-cars.co.uk

Bridport & Beaminster Reporter| Lottie is currently studying for an NCTJ Diploma in Journalism through a distance learning course and joined the paper in April 2014 on a freelance basis, becoming a staff reporter in January 2015. She is now the reporter for the View From Bridport and View From Beaminster papers.

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