A pioneering partnership between parish and town councils, Somerset County Council and a local bus operator has saved two key West Somerset routes.
This week Minehead Town Council and the Parish Councils for Porlock, Selworthy and Minehead without, and Luccombe signed a contract with the County Council pledging their financial support for the 10 and 11 (formerly 10 and 10a) routes between Porlock and Minehead and within Minehead.
In the first arrangement of its kind in the county, the commitment will keep the service running from the end of March when interim funding was due to end. Buses of Somerset will be operating the service which had been provided by Webberbus before the company ceased to trade last year.
Buses of Somerset gave the service a lifeline by extending it in October to allow more time for discussions. Since then council transport officers have been working closely with the parishes, towns and local members over several months, supporting the work to come up with and formalise the new arrangements.
Councillor David Fothergill, Cabinet Member for Transport and Highways, said: “I’m delighted we have been able to support this innovative partnership to secure this much needed service. It’s a fantastic example of communities coming together to provide a service that we are not in a financial position to secure ourselves.
“What is important now is that residents use it. This contract is for 12 months and for it to be sustainable in the longer-term it needs as many people as possible to use it to justify the investment.”
Alex Carter, Managing Director of First South West, said: “We are very pleased that through our collaborative working with partners a way forward has been found for the continuation of these services following the lifeline we put in place initially. We do appreciate their value to local residents and visitors, but for them to be sustained longer term, the message very much has to be, use it or lose it. It is our hope that the local communities will get behind these bus services and fully support them.”
The service has been running on a reduced timetable since October 2016, initially funded by Buses of Somerset and more recently with additional financial help from the local councils. When the new agreement comes into place on 27 February, the timetable will be improved, providing a two hourly service on both the Minehead town route (as a new service 11) and the Minehead to Porlock route (service 10).
Full details of the new timetable will be available on the Buses of Somerset website at https://www.firstgroup.com/somerset
The service has already secured advertising sponsorship from the National Trust and will be offering local businesses the opportunity to pay for advertising space on the bus to help secure its long-term future and potentially reinstate the Saturday service.
Notes to editors:
- A photo attached shows from left to right: Cllr David Fothergill, Somerset County Council; Malcolm McCoy, Porlock Parish Council; Christine Fitzgerald, Porlock Parish Council; Derrick Bott, Selworthy & Minehead Without Parish Council and; Lee Jones, First South West.
- The service officially launches on Monday 27 February, with funding in place until March 2018.
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