Published:
November 24, 2015
Anger as cutbacks threaten 'vital' Burnham and Highbridge bus service

Residents in the Burnham-On-Sea area have attacked Somerset County Council proposals to axe a 'vital' bus service through the area.

The cuts could come as the authority tries to adjust its budget with an expected loss of 20% (£63million) from its current Government funding by 2019.

One service that's earmarked to be withdrawn is Service 113, which runs from Highbridge to Berrow on five return journeys per day and is operated by Hatch Green Coaches.

The council's proposal is to remove the service, with a spokesman saying: "Other public bus routes are available within walking distance and a slinky service is also available in the area."

But local resident Mike Wise, who is also Vice Chairman of Berrow Parish Council, told Burnham-On-Sea.com this week: "This local service is a vital lifeline for many local people."

"It would be a big step backwards to lose this service and I hope that local people will tell the County Council during its consultation to reconsider withdrawing this service."

"This service runs from Highbridge through Burnham to Berrow through the day and is particularly punctual because it connects with Highbridge Rail Station."

Another local service affected by the cutbacks is Service 67 which runs from Burnham-On-Sea to Wookey Hole and is operated by Webberbus, right.

The council's proposal is to withdraw its funding contribution, requiring the service to be run on a fully commercial basis.

However, there are fears among users that this may reduce the viabilty of the service.

The County Council says services that have low passenger use or have possible alternatives have been targeted for the reductions.

Cllr David Fothergill, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "Having to consider drastically reducing the council’s funding for bus services is incredibly tough and we do not take it at all lightly."

"We have worked hard to protect this funding for as long as possible, and it is a real and raw sign of the financial times that we face, with increasingly more difficult decisions about the services we can afford to provide."

"I urge anyone affected by these proposals to take part in these consultations and have their say. All the results will be considered before any decisions are made."

Local people holding concessionary bus passes could also feel the sting of budget restraints if their benefits are cut. The county council has proposed reducing the bus pass discount from 50% to 25% on fares up to £5 single or £10 return.

To find out more about the consultation, go to the council’s website here.

Will the proposed cutbacks affect you? Contact Burnham-On-Sea.com.


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