Friday, 27 February 2015

Don't cut us off letter to the press

The “Don't Cut Us Off!” campaign to improve our bus services is astonished that Somerset County Council cannot find a senior elected representative to attend the important 5th March public meeting in Shepton Mallet to discuss the future bus timetable that meets the needs of Somerset residents and visitors.
We now call upon the County Council to supply a Corporate Manager for Transport to attend the 5th March meeting, as the political representatives deem it not important enough to make time to hear the views of the travelling public and the bus companies. 
Most of our county’s towns and villages do not have bus services that meet need. But it is impossible to improve public transport if those who make decisions, like the leader and transport portfolio holder, essentially sit with their fingers in their ears unwilling to listen to users.  We do however note that the transport portfolio holder has offered to meet with Shepton Mallet Town Council, but will not engage with the people of Somerset who actually need and use the buses.
The Don't Cut Us Off! campaign wants to improve the existing timetable and the routes that buses take.  We want up-to-date data on bus usage to be collected and analyzed to identify the real needs of users (and potential users). This can then be used to target bus subsidies more effectively to improve services. We want to set up a countywide forum of users, bus operators and the County Council. These stakeholders would then be well placed to deliver improvements in service that would provide buses routes and integrated timetables that are closely matched to the lives of users.  If optimized timetables make routes more popular then this will also increase revenue to bus operators. Ultimately this could even reduce the need for public subsidies.
Not unreasonably, we expect better from our political leaders than sitting in a corner saying they don't want to listen to the ordinary people of Somerset.  We expect those who control the public purse to use the limited money available to best advantage. This campaign has found that the public is eager to help the County Council to achieve this.
So come on, councillors!  It’s time to rise to the occasion on the 5th of March and engage with younger, older, disabled, less-well-off, carbon footprint-aware, occasional, regular and future bus users.
Sarah Bolton
Tracey Harding
Chris Inchley
Garfield Kennedy
Derek Tanswell
Sharon Snook
for the “Don’t Cut Us Off!” Campaign

Wednesday, 18 February 2015


It has just been officially announced by Somerset county council that they will not be making any cuts to their Saturday bus services next may. 

Well done to all bus users who took part in the consultation along with campaigners especially Emma Russel ( Frome ) and Sarah Bolton ( Shepton Mallet ) who like myself spent hours out in the cold to inform bus users about the councils consultation and gathering  usage figures. Huge thank you to Counilors  Garfield Kennedy ( Shepton Mallet ) and Derek Tanswell ( Frome ) for putting a strong case  forward to scc on our behalf.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Press release from the Don't Cut Us Off Campaign

Somerset County council have confirmed that they will be funding all of their Saturday bus services, check local press for more details.

Thank you everyone who took part in the councils consultation and all who have been campaigning hard to make this happen.

Monday, 9 February 2015

DONT CUT US OFF Article in Shepton Journal

The “Don't Cut Us Off” campaign welcomes the news that the County Council will not remove the bus services on a Saturday in and out of Shepton. We would like to thank all those people that took part in the consultation and those who lobbied the County Council.

The Don't Cut Us Off campaign recognises that without public and bus user pressure the County Council would not have removed the threat of bus services being axed; this against a backdrop of poor advertising and the silence of our county councillor in regard to the bus consultation.

During the process of our campaign we have discovered many deficiencies in our bus timetable that fail to respond to the travelling public’s needs.  This includes timetabling that does not allow connections to railway stations, and bus services that do not connect with other bus services.  One example of this being buses to Wells that do not connect at the bus station, but force the travelling public to run to make connections elsewhere in Wells to get to Bath and Bristol.

The supporters of Don't Cut Us Off are disappointed that all Conservatives voted against the Town Council motion that included holding a meeting between the County Council, bus operators and the people of our town and surrounding areas to discuss better timetabling.  Fortunately the motion was carried on the chairman’s casting vote, so the planned meeting will go ahead and be announced in the Journal soon.

Most people agree that the current timetable does not meet the aspirations of this town.  The County Council effectively subsidises bus operators for running services that do not meet the needs of our community.  This is a waste of subsidy and an abuse of public money.  We want bus operators to earn their subsidy and this would include helping to design a better timetable and promotion of integrated bus services matched to need.

This reprieve of services is welcome, but the complacent relationship that has allowed bus services in our town to fail to serve our community must end. The Don't Cut Us Off campaign calls on all stakeholders to improve public transport, with greater integration of routes and better use of subsidy.