Rickshaw service rolling into second county town

Rickshaw rides will soon be on offer in another county town after a year-long trial of the free service was given the green light.

The rickshaw service which opened in Shrewsbury this summer will soon be on the streets of Oswestry
The rickshaw service which opened in Shrewsbury this summer will soon be on the streets of Oswestry

Oswestry Town Council and the town's Business Improvement District (BID) have agreed to jointly fund the £30,000 pilot project, which will be operated by Shropshire Cycle Hub.

It follows the charity’s successful launch of a free rickshaw service in Shrewsbury over the summer.

The charity says the scheme – which could launch as soon as next week – will help to promote the town to visitors and tourists, reduce car traffic and encourage a shift towards active travel.

If it proves popular, the longer-term goal is to recruit volunteers to expand the service.

Speaking at a meeting of the town council’s finance and general purposes committee on Monday evening, Councillor Mike Isherwood said: “I think this is really exciting.

“Who wouldn’t like a ride in a rickshaw when they come to Oswestry?

“For visitors it’s going to be something that really kindles the imagination and will make Oswestry a much more fun place to visit.

“I think residents, too, will enjoy getting from A to B via the rickshaw – it will save time, it will save their legs, and it might get a few people out of their cars as well.”

The rickshaw will be operated by a full-time rider employed by the Cycle Hub, and will be available for people to hail in the town centre.

Users will also be able to call up and book a ride to and from any address in town.

While there will be no charge, donations to the charity will be encouraged.

Mayor Mark Jones said the service should be chargeable to enable it to become self-sufficient.

He said: “What’s stopping us charging and making this something that earns us revenue?”

Councillor Duncan Kerr, committee chairman, said he had asked the Cycle Hub the same question and had been told it would require the service to be licensed by Shropshire Council.

He added: “It’s something we can look into over the course of the pilot. If this is going to sustain itself going forward, there needs to be an income stream.”

Some members also suggested postponing the launch of the trial until nearer the summer.

But Councillor Isherwood said: “We want the summer months to be busy, we want people to know the service is there leading into those months so I don’t think the winter is a barrier to starting this service.

“It’s going to run for 12 months so it’s going to be running over the winter anyway.”

He proposed supporting the trial to start on the date put forward by the Cycle Hub – November 1 – and this was backed by a majority of councillors.

Adele Nightingale, Oswestry BID manager, confirmed that the BID board had voted to support this project and put up 50 per cent of the cost for the trial.

She said: “Having consulted with Shrewsbury BID we know that the scheme has been running successfully there for some time and felt that this is something we should introduce to Oswestry.

“It will be a fun way to transport visitors around our lovely town, although I am sure that many of our local residents will make use of the service too.

“We see lots of opportunities to develop this further in the future and this is just the first step to getting this project off the ground.”

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