Job hunters in the rural south of the county will be given a helping hand with the introduction of passes which allow them to travel for free on the pioneering CountyConnect bus service.
Northamptonshire County Council has teamed up with South Northamptonshire Council (SNC) to provide 50 passes which provide up to six round-trip journeys for job interviews.
The passes have been made available to members of SNC’s Job Club – the highly successful bespoke service which provides support for people looking to return to employment, training or education.
If this pilot scheme is successful it could be expanded so more passes become available and to other areas of the county.
Cllr Andre Gonzalez de Savage, county council Cabinet member for infrastructure and public protection, said: “Northamptonshire was recently voted the most enterprising place in Britain and this is exactly the sort of initiative we think is valuable in helping people back to work and boosting prosperity in the county.
“It makes sense for us to open up our service in this way to help remove what we know is often one of the biggest barriers for rural job-seekers to reach the workplace.
“The county council is looking at every opportunity to support partners such as South Northamptonshire Council with creative projects such as its Job Clubs initiative, which has already proved its worth.
“We hope these free passes will assist even more people in their search for jobs and training.”
Councillor Rupert Fordham, SNC Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Regeneration, said: “I am delighted that all the work we have put into our Job Club scheme has helped south Northamptonshire to achieve the third lowest unemployment rate in the UK.
“The scheme has already found work for over 150 placements but we still need to work hard to ensure employment opportunities are open to those in the more remote parts of our district. This travel scheme will be a real boost to those looking for work and those that may otherwise struggle to finance travel to interviews.
”I would encourage anyone actively looking for work to join our Job Club scheme, take advantage of this great travel offer and benefit from the expert advice available at the Towcester and Brackley Job Clubs.”
CountyConnect differs from conventional bus services in that customers book a seat on specially designed low-floor mini-buses either by telephone, text message or via the internet and arrange to be picked up at a specific time at their nearest village bus stop. Journeys can be made on CountyConnect between 7am and 7pm.
People can book to travel to any other stop in the area served, not just the local town centre and rather than just providing occasional ‘shopper’ journeys, the service is designed to make all kinds of journeys possible, including medical appointments, and regular journeys to college or work.
For more information and booking, go to www.county-connect.co.uk