Bus users in Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge have reacted with dismay to the news that vital services look set to be axed following a cost-cutting decision by Somerset County Council’s Cabinet this week.
Service 113, which runs from Highbridge to Berrow on five return journeys per day and is operated by Hatch Green Coaches, is set to be withdrawn following Monday’s vote to proceed with cuts to local services.
600 people in Burnham and Highbridge have signed a petition, organised by bus users June Gibson and Patty Shinn, pictured, to try and save the service
June, who travels daily by bus between Burnham and Highbridge, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “I am very disappointed and dismayed by this week’s decision by the Cabinet. They don’t seem to have listened to the feedback of local people at all. If we lose this service we have a problem – this will affect many users. I urge the council to think very carefully before going ahead with the cuts.”
She added: “The 113 bus service is used by people of all ages who say it is a lifeline to keep them moving. The Hatch Green bus is the only service that collects people from the local estates – Morland, Rosewood and along Love Lane – and runs regularly between Burnham and Highbridge. It’s also the only bus that connects with Highbridge Railway Station. It will be terrible to lose it.”
A Somerset County Council spokesperson told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “Cabinet members have this week voted to approve proposals for bus services in the county.”
“This includes, due to alternative bus routes being available within walking distance, proposals to potentially withdraw funding from routes 67 and 113.”
“We are talking to operators about the possible diversion of other bus services into areas currently served by service 113. We will provide an update as soon as we can.”
“The Cabinet’s recommendation will now be put to the Full Council meeting next week for a final decision.”
“Like many local authorities, we face major challenges to balance our budget from 2016/17 and beyond. Our direct funding from Central Government is expected to have fallen by around £63m against our current annual budget of around £315m in just five years, while the demand for our core, statutory services, particularly those for vulnerable adults and children, rises.”
“All this means we face incredibly tough decisions that we can no longer avoid, and unfortunately reducing our funding for bus services is one of these.”
Another local service set to be affected is Service 67 which runs from Burnham-On-Sea to Wookey Hole and is operated by WebberBus, pictured. The council’s proposal is to withdraw its funding contribution, thereby requiring the service to be run on a fully commercial basis.