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   Council’s transport lead voices frustration over disruption to bus services in Somerset

Cancellations and disruption to timetables hitting bus routes across Somerset have been flagged with the region’s main operator by the County Council’s lead for transport.

Councillor Mike Rigby has written to First South’s Managing Director Simon Goff asking for an “urgent explanation” for the number of cancellations in the last year and an action plan for improvement. He has also criticised cleanliness of some buses which he said creates a “bad image for existing and potential passengers”.

The Lead Member for Transport and Digital has underlined his concerns that the unreliability of timetables will undermine efforts to get more people on buses, despite money from Somerset’s Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) supporting a £1 fare for Taunton, Government funding making possible a £2 single fare across the county, and the Council investing significantly in a sustained ‘Bus It’ campaign.

Mr Goff has responded citing a national shortage of drivers which has hit the industry since the pandemic, as well as an unusually high level of absenteeism, and said he is “determined to restore passenger confidence” and to ensure disruption is short term.

He has underlined measures to increase the number of drivers and new trainees coming through.

Cllr Rigby said: “I was encouraged by Mr Goff’s swift response, it shows First South/Buses of Somerset are taking my concerns – and the concerns of the public –  seriously.

“We understand there are underlying factors within the industry which have thrown up significant challenges, but I have personally experienced disruption often and many members of the public have raised the issue of cancelled services with me. It puts people in a difficult position when they may be on their way to school, work or an important appointment.

“The measures outlined to increase the number of drivers and to bring in more trainees are reassuring, but what we don’t have, and what I am asking for, is a firm deadline and targets for measurable improvement. We need this as soon as possible and I will be making this point as we continue to engage in constructive dialogue with First South to ensure disruption to bus services in Somerset is reduced to an acceptable minimum.”

In his response to Cllr Rigby, Mr Goff said: “We remain committed to delivering our scheduled services for the people of Somerset that we proudly serve and to ensure that the Bus It campaign and the wider benefits of the BSIP can be fully realised. As I have outlined, we have plans in place to help address the labour shortage issue and improvements will be seen from today.”

Mr Goff also said the cleanliness of buses would be monitored over the coming days.

Buses of Somerset currently have vacances for trainee bus drivers visit careers.firstbus.co.uk to find out more.

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Financial Risk Management Policy - March 2023

Grant Application Kings Coronation Form

The Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III will take place on Saturday 6th May 2023, with an additional bank holiday on Monday 8th May 2023.

We are keen to hear from groups/organisations in Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge that are looking to celebrate the Coronation. The Town Council has £1500 available to allocate to events being organised to celebrate the Kings Coronation. The maximum grant to be allocated per event will be £500.

You must meet the following criteria for your application to be considered:

– The event will be open to all members of the public

– The event will be free of charge

– The event will take place within the Coronation weekend

– The event will take place within Burnham on Sea or Highbridge

 

Applications will close on Monday 6th March at midday. 

Your organisation and contact details

What happens next....
Applications will be considered at the Finance and Resources Committee Meeting on Monday 13th March 2023. You will be notified after this date whether your application has been successful.
Burnham & Highbridge Town Council takes your privacy seriously and will only use your personal information for the purposes of contacting you about this grant. The Council’s privacy notice can be found here.

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