Vital bus links are kept running thanks to parish partnership

Blur motion effect, wheel of busTwo valued bus services in West Somerset are continuing to run thanks to the joint efforts of parish councils, Somerset County Council and local operators.

New operators Atwest and Ridlers Coaches are picking up the number 10 Porlock to Minehead and 11 Minehead town service after Buses of Somerset recently announced that it would be ceasing to run the routes.

For the last year both routes had been kept on the road thanks to a contract brokered by council transport officers which saw Minehead Town Council and the Parish Councils for Porlock, Selworthy and Minehead without, and Luccombe pledge their financial support for the services.

This pioneering partnership, thought to be the first of its kind in the country, came after the previous operator, Webber Buses, ceased to trade at short notice.

Council officers and local members have worked with the parish and town councils to find new operators and agree a new contract to keep the routes running.

Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport at Somerset County Council, Councillor John Woodman, said: “A lot of people have put in a lot of effort to come to this new arrangement and I thank everyone for their hard work.

“There is clearly a desire and commitment from the local communities to support these services that we are not in a financial position to secure ourselves.

“We were happy to bring everyone together and negotiate with operators to come up with these arrangements that have kept these buses on the road.”

Chairman of Porlock PC, Councillor Malcolm McCoy said he was delighted the four parish councils, working alongside Somerset County Council, had brought about a “seamless change of bus operators on the two routes”.

“We have received many letters and comments from local residents telling us how without a bus they would feel isolated from family, friends and shopping opportunities,” he said.

“The service also allows holidaymakers to explore Exmoor National Park’s coastal villages.  This is local democracy working at is best in our rural community.”

Mayor of Minehead, Councillor Jean Parbrook said maintaining the services was a great example of partnership working.

“We were happy to support the town bus service – it’s important for people to enable them to get out and about,” she said.

Atwest and Ridlers Coaches started running the routes on Monday 19 February 2018. The number 10 route is being operated partly by Ridlers on a commercial basis, while Atwest is running some journeys, which are funded by parish councils.

Buses of Somerset is continuing to run one school day journey throughout the week. The 11 service is being jointly run on a commercial/Minehead Town Council council-funded basis, operated by Ridlers.

Atwest will run the service 10 Saturday service which is being funded jointly by the parish councils.