The new North Somerset Council met for the first time last night. I asked for an urgent meeting with Cllr James Tonkin, the Executive Member for Planning and Transport to look at what options are open to the Council to help put our local bus services back together again.
To be fair to James, he had literally been confirmed in his post for a matter of minutes, but he responded positively. After the Council meeting closed I had further conversations – including with transport campaigner, Dave Redgewell, neighbouring ward councillors, and also Cllr Don Davies, the new Leader of the Council.
Jonathan Edwards (Chair of Yatton Parish Council) has been on this case for a while, too, and working together, I’m hopeful of some progress after a woeful lack of a local bus strategy.
This is what I said during councillor Question Time.
Does the Executive Member (for Transport) agree with me that just because rural bus services aren’t particularly profitable it should not mean that we shouldn’t have the service?
As many members will know, as a result of the changes to First West of England bus routes and timetables on 28 April there is now no bus service between Yatton and Clevedon (not to mention Kenn and Kingston Seymour) except the weekly 128 service (which gives you 2.5 hours to do what you need to do before the return journey).
A Yatton to Clevedon service is a lifeline for many people and the removal of the X7 service has caused a lot of distress: two examples – a pensioner having to fork out £22 to pay for a return taxi fare in order to attend a weekly appointment at the Community Hospital; and a young woman unable to get to Castlewood to sign-on at the Jobcentre. It is unacceptable that many now have to beg others for lifts.
The subsidised 88 Carmel service was dropped when First’s X7 was brought in last year. I gather that while there is some budget to reintroduce a similar service, there is a shortfall… although again – I understand that this is less than the sum the last administration agreed to pass to First from S106 funds to allow for the re-routed X2 service to branch off along Yatton high street.
I realise of course that this is not straightforward, but I would respectfully ask the Executive Member if he would agree to meet with me, Cllr Griggs, and a representative of Yatton Parish Council as soon as possible please so we can look at what further options might be open for the Council to resolve the current unacceptable situation.