NEW money to help vulnerable and elderly Bankies get to healthcare appointments has been branded a “stunt” by one local councillor.

The Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) has approved the award of £16,000 to set up a community transport scheme in West Dunbartonshire in the form of a volunteer car scheme or “demand responsive minibus” as part a £1.3 million spend on community transport projects across the west of Scotland.

The local scheme will be for people who are unable to use existing public transport services to get to appointments at the new Clydebank Health Centre or at other hospitals.

Council officials said it was expected that the pilot would help around 270 residents.

And the money is to go to South West Community Transport Glasgow – a charity based in Nitshill.

A pilot of a direct bus link between Clydebank and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) collapsed after six months because commercial operators wouldn’t take on the route.

Clydebank Waterfront Labour councillor Danny Lennie, who was a campaigner for the hospital bus from Clydebank before he was elected, told the Post: “SPT have kept communities woefully short of vital transport for years, and now they are trying to say they care.

“They did not care when Clydebank desperately needed better transport to the hospital. SPT should be providing transport wherever there is need.

“This is nothing more than trying to look good – way too little, way too late.

“The sooner transport is fully back in public hands the better for the paying public.”

A spokeswoman for West Dunbartonshire Council said: “We welcome this funding which will allow us to work with partners to pilot a project to train volunteers to provide door-to-door transport to ensure our most vulnerable residents can attend vital healthcare appointments.

“The service also aims to help tackle social exclusion and loneliness by offering these residents an opportunity to develop a supportive relationship with their regular driver, who will then be able to identify additional concerns and make any necessary referrals.”

Councillor David Wilson, chair of SPT’s operations committee, which approved the funding awards, said: “The last year has had a severe impact on all transport operators, and this includes those working in community transport.

“However, it still remains that many of these community transport projects are lifelines services for those individuals and groups they support and help.

“Ensuring funding for their future operation and development is key to their success and will ensure they continue to deliver vital services in our urban and rural communities as we come out of lockdown.”