All aboard the community bus

THE bus at the centre of fervent community debate will return to the region but its future remains in question.

The case of the Bellingen Hospital bus, which was paid for by the local community and then removed by the North Coast Area Health Service to another hospital, is coming to a close.

Bellingen Health Action Group (BHAG) has been campaigning to see the bus returned. The group’s research proved the bus was purchased to offer "social and cultural stimulation for elderly residents at Hartley House" through a fund established in 1977.

BHAG chairperson, Pia Dollmann, recently met with the CEO of the new Mid North Coast Local Health Network, Stewart Dowrick, and said he expressed his intention to build strong relationships with the Bellingen community.

Ms Dollmann said the bus was back on the Mid North Coast but its future was uncertain.

“The bus was funded by the Bellingen community and therefore has to come back to Bellingen,” Ms Dollmann said.

“Mr Dowrick was not able to give details regarding the bus because a decision has to be made about who will own and manage it.

“The hospital won’t take care of it again and it was originally purchased both for patients at the hospital and for use by other community groups.”

Any community groups in Bellingen who want to maintain and operate the bus, which includes keeping up with registration and looking after bookings, should contact Barbara Moore on 6655 1898.

If no group comes forward to manage the bus, BHAG proposes to sell it and apply the funds to an agreed purpose at Bellingen Hospital.

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