Tess Deckker, a driver with operator with Salmon’s coaches, one of the Local link Operators.

Praise for Local Link response to coronavirus

The Local Link rural transport company has received significant praise for its response to the challenges presented by Covid-19 since March.

“The extraordinary circumstances required an extraordinary response,” Local Link chairman Tom Farrell said, “and we recognise the swift, resilient and accommodating way the staff and operators of Local Link responded.”

Tom, a councillor with Westmeath County Council, was speaking ahead of his chairman’s report to the AGM.

“When the country went into lockdown, Local Link undertook to work with the Community Response teams over the three counties,” he said.

“This included work with community volunteers collecting groceries and messages for those cocooning.

“It also meant a significant undertaking in terms of dispatch, keeping in contact with passengers and drivers, working with operators and having expertise available to Community Response Forums.”

Calling for a round of applause from the board for the staff, operators and drivers, Cllr Farrell said: “We are now welcoming back passengers that were shielding at home and getting ready to continue to work within guidelines to increase capacity and I appreciate that for many weeks we have all been working with many unknown elements to the challenges we face.

“In spite of that, our team at Local Link Longford Westmeath Roscommon worked to ensure all their services were travelling and not a single day was missed.”

180,000 passengers

The chairman’s report informed the board that Local Link LWR carried 177,194 passengers on its services last year. The company also supported 92 one-off trips for local community groups.

“Our work is to provide affordable, accessible appropriate rural transport. We want the message to go out that Local Link is rural transport for everyone.

“I think that it is time to review how we work; for many of us the roles and challenges in our areas have changed, as has the demographics of our communities, as part of the robust approach that we take to our work we must also look inwards at how we are working at board level.”

Cllr Farrell also called for the board to consider that the term of chairman be extended to two years, to allow a greater focus on long-term projects and support the work of this role,; before politely declining that this measure be applied to his own term.

“I thank the board for their consideration at this time, but the need is not to extend my office but to reflect on all the officer terms and create a new model for election to the board, review the functions of the officers and consider the overall makeup of the board to prepare for the future development of this company and the diverse representation required to provide the best mix of expertise to support this development.”

The new chairman is Sean Farrell from Longford.