Published: February 29, 2012
Threatened Burnham-On-Sea bus service saved from the axe

Campaigners who have been fighting to save a threatened Burnham-On-Sea bus service from the axe have this week welcomed a decision by Somerset County Council to partially retain the service.

At a meeting this week, the County Council said it had listened to hundreds of residents across Burnham and Highbridge who have signed a petition calling for a re-think on controversial money-saving proposals to scrap the 113 bus service, which runs from Berrow to Highbridge station, passing through several large estates in Burnham as well as both doctors surgeries. first reported here that more than 540 people had signed a petition calling on the council not to axe funding for the service.

This week, the council's cabinet fully considered the consultation responses and decided to continue funding the 113 bus service, apart from on Saturdays.

Burnham and Highbridge town councillor Chris Williams, who has campaigned against the cuts, told "I am very, very pleased that SCC has listened to the views of over 540 residents who signed the petition to retain the service. Thanks also go to our two County Councillors - John Woodman and Peter Burridge-Clayton - who have been working away behind the scenes, and to the very helpful staff at both SCC and Hatch Green Coaches."

"At present, we have had to lose the Saturday service. We are still negotiating to see whether a morning-only service on Saturdays might be possible with a little local subsidy but this is at a very early stage and may be discussed at next week's Town Council meeting. Obviously, there can be no promises. This has been a really good example of the community and Town Council working together to safeguard services."

And fellow town councillor Helen Groves added: "This is absolutely fantastic news and a real victory for the people of the area whilst appreciating the difficult financial climate. It is vital to our communities that services such as the 113 are protected since while they may not be profitable they do provide an essential service to some of the most vunerable members of our society."

"Had this service been withdrawn, it could have had a serious negative impact on health and wellbeing. I am very pleased to note that the County Council has listened to the huge public response to this proposal and acted accordingly."

The County Council revealed this week that plans to scrap the 113 service which serves Highbridge and Burnham attracted 210 questionnaire responses during its consultation period.

Somerset County Council's Cabinet Member for Highways, Cllr Harvey Siggs, said: "We have talked to bus operators and bus passengers. We have always said this was about listening and have taken action where we can to help out. We have gone back to the budgets and found some areas where we can use money more flexibly to invest here."

The County Council is not, however, re-considering its decision to withdraw funding for Burnham's evening Route 21 service, which goes to Taunton and Bridgwater.

A total of 1,400 questionnaire responses, plus 148 letters and emails were received during the council's consultation period, as well as many telephone enquiries. The council is seeking to achieve £1.53m of cost savings in supported bus service across the whole region.

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