reprieve for threatened local bus service is welcomed
axe-threatened bus service through the Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge
area is set to be partially saved following 11th hour talks by Somerset
County Council and local parish councils.
67, which runs through Burnham-On-Sea, Highbridge, East Huntspill,
Mark and Wedmore to Wookey Hole and was previously operated by the
now-defunct WebberBus, was set to be withdrawn at the end of December
to cut costs, as we first reported here.
emergency contract to keep the service running was put in place
by Somerset County Council with Bakers Dolpin earlier in the year
following the demise of WebberBus. But that contract expired at
the end of November and was then extended for what the council said
was a "final time" to December 31st.
Tom Main, Public Transport Manager from Transporting Somerset
at the County Council, has held discussions with local parish councils
about keeping the service running. He has this week written to the
parish councils advising them that a last-minute change is being
agreed following a session in Wells last week.
He says: "One of the main points from the meeting in Wells
was that the Parishes need more time for further discussions on
both the level of service required and how to fund such a service."
"Linked to this was a request for Somerset County Council
to fund a temporary service as it would not be possible for the
Parishes to reach an agreement before the current service is withdrawn
on 31st December."
"I can confirm that the Council is willing to fund a limited
replacement service to be operated by Mendip Community Transport,
initially for January 2017 but with an SCC option to extend this
funding for another two months to take us to the end of March 2017,
providing a long term funding arrangement can be agreed by the Parishes
by the end of January."
"It was suggested by multiple Parishes that another meeting
be held in Wedmore to discuss the desired replacement service level."
The council says it hopes to arrange this during January.
The provisional timetable for the replacement service, which will
start from 3rd January 2017 is available
here, however it will no longer run through Burnham-On-Sea,
it currently does, but instead will start and finish from Highbridge
One local bus user, who asked not to be named, told Burnham-On-Sea.com:
"I'm relieved that the service is being maintained from Highbridge
Railway Station but very disappointed that Burnham has been excluded.
Burnham has come out of this poorly."