Burnham-On-Sea bus service is saved until March 2018
key bus service between Wells and Burnham-On-Sea will continue until
at least March 2018, the County Council has announced.
The 67 service was due to end on Friday (21st July), but after months
of meetings and discussions between Somerset County Council and
eight parishes along the bus route, an agreement has been reached
that will see the parishes meet much of the running costs.
The 67s previous operator Webberbus went out of business in
May last year. And since then it has been kept going with emergency
Council funding which has allowed the work on a community-funded
replacement to carry on.
Under the new agreement the service will continue with no change
to the timetable. Crosville Motor Services will be running the Burnham-On-Sea
to Wedmore section and Mendip Community Transport will run the Wedmore
to Wells section.
Between now and March, Somerset County Council and the parishes
will be looking at the long-term viability of the arrangements,
which will depend to a large extent on how well used the service
Highbridge county councillor John Woodman, who is Cabinet Member
for Highways and Transport, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "All the
parishes deserve considerable credit for how they have come together
and worked with us to come up with a solution."
"Our budgets are under huge pressures and we were in no position
to start subsidising the 67 after the collapse of Webberbus. But
we found the money to keep it going in the short-term and the result
is this agreement which secures the route until March."
"My message now is that the communities need to get behind
the service. We all hope that it will be possible for this agreement
or something like it to work in the longer term, but
it only stacks up if the route is well-used."
The eight parishes are paying varying contributions towards the
cost of the service and Somerset County Council is contributing
a further small amount to fund access to further education. The
Council is also underwriting the revenue predictions for the remainder
of this financial year.
Councillor David Huxtable, who has been overseeing the discussions
with the parishes, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "This is a fantastic
example of collaboration and joint working between the county and
parish councils which has allowed this vital service to continue."
"Shrinking budgets mean we have to be creative, work differently
and see where we can work with our local communities. This just
shows that can be achieved when we do."
The parishes which are part of the agreement are: Wells, Wedmore,
Wookey, St Cuthbert, Mark, East Huntspill, Burnham Without and Burnham
and Highbridge Town Council recently pledged to give £5,000
towards keeping the service running, as we first reported