Inconvenient times

YOU are quite right to publicise changes to the law regarding senior citizens' concessionary bus passes, but I don't see why you choose to single out Cheddar Gorge

YOU are quite right to publicise changes to the law regarding senior citizens' concessionary bus passes, but I don't see why you choose to single out Cheddar Gorge as somehow costing local residents more money than anywhere else in your front page story ('Locals pay tourists' bus fares', January 3 Somerset edition).This is a change to national legislation, and every local authority in the land is going to have to pay an increased bill without being compensated by Central Government. As in other local authorities, Sedgemoor's senior citizens can already travel within Somerset on a bus free of charge. From April 1 all local authorities, including Sedgemoor, will pay for all senior citizens' bus journeys originating in their districts, whether the senior citizen is a resident or a visitor to the district.The Government's idea is that this will reduce the need for car travel, and local authorities can pay for it. However, you don't have to be a senior citizen to know that in fact it's almost impossible to get to Cheddar on a bus from anywhere, Bath, Bristol or Brean Sands, and get back in the same day. Rural bus services, where they do exist, operate at inconvenient times take a long time to cover the distance and cost a lot of money, which is precisely why car travel remains so popular with all of us.The only bus service which operates with any tolerable frequency to Cheddar is the Wells to Weston service, so I really don't think that councillors need worry about hordes of OAP tourists arriving in Cheddar on free public transport. Everyone will continue to drive to Cheddar because there is no realistic alternative, as doubtless the council's committee on bus usage will discover. Paradoxically, if a few extra OAPs do find their way to Cheddar by bus, if they started from Wells they would be subsidised by Mendip, and if they started from Weston they would be subsidised by North Somerset. So it won't cost Sedgemoor a penny. Don't we live in an unnecessarily complicated world!HUGH CORNWELL - Director Cheddar Caves and Gorge


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