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Saturday bus services rescued in council U-turn

LOCALcampaigners are celebrating after officially announcing victory following their four-month fight to keep Saturday bus services running.

The Frome and Villages Bus Users Group, known colloquially as FAVBUG, has been on a mission to save its Saturday bus services since November last year when it was announced that funding cuts meant some routes could be axed or severely reduced.

However, following a  meeting on Wednesday 18th February, continued funding from Somerset County Council was agreed and the future of the services was secured. The 161 from Frome Hospital to Wells and the 424 from Cork Street to Midsomer Norton will both retain their Saturday routes.

The group teamed up with residents of Shepton Mallet, who are trying to save their own 669 and 776 services, to run the ‘Don’t Cut Us Off!’ campaign.

Founding campaigner Tracey Harding said, “It is fantastic news for bus users and I’m absolutely over the moon that it has been so worth fighting for. Favbug and Shepton  Mallet campaigners have worked really hard to let as many bus users  as possible know about the council’s consultation since last November.

“I am glad that all of our standing in the cold and hard work has paid off! So many people have no other means of transport and would have been left totally  isolated if the cuts had gone ahead. Well done bus users!”

Somerset councillor Derek Tanswell said, “Councillors Sharon Snook, Alvin Horsfall and I posed three questions to Somerset County Council at full council meetings over the last five months. On the second occasion we were told all weekend services were to not be funded.

“Since then, the Conservative administration has done a full U-turn and has decided it will fund the Saturday services, which is a great result.

“We have held a public meeting and become founding members of the  Favbug group, and joined   the ‘Don’t Cut Us Off’ user group in Shepton Mallet.

“We are very proud to work with the entire user group who have worked very hard in achieving this result; a great team effort and thanks to all who helped!

“Tracy Harding, Emma Russel and Denise Bull have been great in effort and commitment. 1,500 people responded to the survey and the public pressure and  user groups were a key component in saving the services. We did the impossible.”

Tricia Golinski, deputy mayor and Iff councillor said, “We are delighted that Somerset County Council have confirmed that they will not be cutting support for Saturday services. Through working with the Favbug members and as a regular bus user myself, I know how important these services are for people living in and around Frome. This U-turn also shows the importance of us all getting together to put pressure on.

“We now need to work with the bus companies to ensure the services are as useful and efficient as possible. There is an open meeting on the 5th March at 7pm at Mendip Council’s offices at Shepton Mallet to discuss this, I’d urge anyone interested in better bus services to come along.”

For more information about the meeting or to arrange transport contact Anna Francis: francisa@frometowncouncil.gov.uk or call 01373 475574

 

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