AGENDA ITEM – THE IMMINENT THREAT TO SATURDAY BUS SERVICES TO AND FROM SHEPTON MALLET
Proposed by Cllr Chris Inchley and Seconded by Cllr Garfield Kennedy
This council notes that Somerset County Council has conducted a consultation on bus subsidies that finished in the Christmas holiday period.
This town council is deeply concerned by the County Council’s proposals to withdraw funding to our local bus services on Saturdays, adding to the already damaging cuts to Sunday and evening weekday services.
For many in our community and the surrounding villages, buses are lifelines for many – including vulnerable people, the young and old and those who either chose not to drive or cannot afford to own a vehicle.
This council finds it unacceptable for our town and our community not to have important arterial public transport links on Saturday. This council notes that this town will suffer more from the proposed cuts to subsidies to ensure the provision of essential bus services due to our already poor public transport service provision, and the lack of many facilities in the town (including entertainment venues, year round public swimming pool and a limited retail offering).
Shepton Mallet has many villages surrounding the town, yet the town and the nearby villages have the worst provision of public transport services of all neighbouring Somerset settlements (including Wells, Frome, Glastonbury, Street, Yeovil, Midsomer Norton etc). Regular and reliable public transport links should be seen as an investment for economic renewal for our town centre and for the wellbeing of those living, working and visiting here. Removal of services will have a negative effect on business. Surveys conducted by the national “Better Transport” group has shown that every pound spent on the support of vital bus links will pay back between £3 - £5 in economic benefit to communities.
“Shepton Mallet Town Council calls upon Somerset County Council to provide sufficient funding from the money already given to them by central government for community transport links, and from the County’s substantial reserves, to allow residents that need reliable bus services to other towns and the City of Wells for work, leisure or to access essential public services. With a population of nearly 10,500, Shepton citizens do not deserve to be cut off all weekend. We ask that public transport services should be based on a timetable to meet the needs of a growing town, including the reinstatement of evening weekday services.
Shepton Mallet Town Council further calls on Somerset County Council to conduct a new more widely publicized consultation, and to request that the County commission an independent economic impact study on the wider effects of losing or curtailing our Saturday bus services.
Shepton Mallet Town Council also formally invites Somerset County Council councillors and officers, bus operators, a representative of the “Better Transport” campaign group, local MPs and prospective Parliamentary candidates, District and Town Councillors and the community to a widely advertised public meeting to establish a bus timetable that meets the needs of our community now and into the future.”