MP criticises council over bus cuts
PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 May 2012
AN MP HAS slammed a local authority over its decision to withdraw a bus service linking villages with Bristol as ‘unfair and short-sighted’.
Somerset County Council announced it has withdrawn funding for the 490 service from Cheddar to Bristol, via Axbridge and Shipham, which currently runs every Tuesday morning, with the last bus slated for May 22.
Tessa Munt said the council’s suggestion that people take a different service and change at Weston would mean a six-hour round-trip for users.
She said: “For many elderly and frail passengers, the 490 bus is the only cost efficient and direct route into the city. It is unfair and unreasonable to expect anyone to endure a three hour journey to attend a vital appointment 20 miles away – and the same coming back.
“I am extremely disappointed that the council has again demonstrated that it does not understand local people’s needs.
“The withdrawal of funding from essential bus services is unfair and short-sighted. I am astonished the council was not prepared even to offer a reduced fortnightly service on this route, which is a lifeline for many.
“Somerset has a budget of £1.9m to subsidise bus routes across the county but claims it is unable to fund even occasional bus travel between Cheddar and Bristol.
“I hope the new Conservative council leader will appreciate the importance of this essential front line service for local people.”
Cabinet Member for Highways, Cllr Harvey Siggs, said: “We have talked to bus operators and bus passengers. We have always said this was about listening and have taken action where we can to help out.
“We have gone back to the budgets and found some areas where we can use money more flexibly to invest.”
“The process doesn’t stop now. We will keep on talking to the public, parish councils and bus operators – there is always room for improvement.”
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