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Political parties unite to save bus services

 

Parties unite to protest against plans for bus services

Parties unite to protest against plans for bus services

Prospective parliamentary candidates from all parties attended the Frome and Villages Bus User Group meeting on  14th January and were unanimous in their support for local bus services.

Anna Francis, sustainable transport officer for Frome Town Council who organised the meeting said, “It’s great to hear that all our prospective parliamentary candidates, and therefore our next MP, support local bus services.

“Improving our public transport is vital. For Somerset County Council to be proposing to cut services is crazy and flies in the face of Government policy on protecting the environment and helping our most vulnerable members of the community, let alone the local economic impact on local towns.”

Regular Frome bus user Tracey Harding said, “I don’t have a car and can’t drive due to medical reasons. Any cuts to the bus services would mean I can’t get to hospital appointments. What am I meant to do? I can’t afford a taxi.”

The group, facilitated by Frome Town Council, also met to discuss Somerset County Council’s specific proposal to cut funding to the 161 and 424 Saturday services which link Frome with Shepton Mallet and Midsomer Norton.

Councillors from Shepton Mallet also attended and councillor Garfield Kennedy said, “If these cuts go ahead Shepton Mallet will have no bus services to the town on Saturdays. This will have a severe impact on the town, commercially, socially and environmentally.”

Somerset County Council’s consultation received over 1,300 responses to its proposal to cut Saturday services and is meeting at the end of February to make their decision. Frome Town Council urges anyone concerned about these cuts to write to Cllr John Osman, Leader of Somerset County Council, at County Hall, Taunton or jdosman@somerset.gov.uk to make public transport better not worse.

Victoria Flynn, the caseworker for Tessa Munt (the MP for the Wells Constituency which covers the Shepton-Wells route’s office) said, “Somerset County Council has £30million in reserves. This represents 10% of their expenditure. The national guidance is for county councils to have 3% or 4% in reserve. Therefore there is around £18million that the council could use to support these vital services.”

Tracey Harding added, “The figures that I’ve been sent suggest supporting the Saturday services costs around £22,000 a year. This is nothing in the context of the money Somerset has available.”

The Frome user group is linking up with Shepton to help promote and protect these services as part of the ‘Don’t Cut Us Off Campaign.’ More information is available on www.facebook.com/groups/dontcutusoff and favbug.blogspot.co.uk

 

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