July 4, 2017
Threatened Burnham-On-Sea bus service given a £5,000 lifeline

Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge Town Council has this week pledged to give £5,000 towards keeping a 'crucial' local bus service running.

It comes after a lively debate on Monday night (July 3rd) when town councillors heard from users of the '67 bus', which runs from Wells to Burnham-On-Sea.

The service has been funded by Somerset County Council since the collapse of bus firm Webberbus last year. Funding was due to run out in March this year, but it was extended until July 21st by the County Council to allow more time for a community-funded replacement to be found with local councils.

One local parish councillor, Rosamund Mary Gaunt, said: "The service runs from Burnham to Wells, but it's all the villages in between who have no bus service who need the most."

Denise Boulton, right, added: "Without this bus, some children will be unable to get to school and other residents will be socially, rurally and financially isolated. This is a really important service to get to Burnham for shopping and doctors. It is the only east-west route that is still available."

Wells county councillor Tessa Munt - who is Burnham's former MP - also spoke out in favour of saving the service. "It's quite difficult for Burnham and Highbridge and for Wells to necessarily see the advantages of a service that is so crucial for the villages in between, but there are real benefits for the businesses in Burnham and Highbridge from shoppers."

"People might also be encouraged to visit local tourist attractions too so there are potential tourism benefits. The cost to save it is just a few pence per household."

Burnham North County councillor Peter Burridge-Clayton agreed: "It's a very important service for local villages and local people. I have no hesitation in supporting giving a grant of £5,000 as a contribution while inviting other sponsors to come forward."

Town councillor Kate Lawson added: "This bus service helps a considerable number of people of all ages and needs. I support this, not just for our town, but neighbouring villages."

Town councillor Louise Parkin said: "For the greater good, this council needs to step up to the plate and give its support."

Mike Young from Burnham tourist information centre added: "It's a myth that local residents don't use this servce - they do, they come in to us regularly asking for timetables. They want it saved as much as tourists."

Cllr Janet Keen added: "Although the arguments are strong, I do think we need to look at the usage figures to understand how many passengers are needed to make it viable."

And while town councillor Martin Cox said he was "very suppportive" of the service, he wondered whether the costs could be reduced by cutting the number of buses per day.

Councillors voted in favour of giving a grant of £5,000 towards the keeping service running, alongside other local councils who will also be giving funding, as pictured below.


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