23rd November 2020 F&R Report 5.1

Purpose of Report to provide an update on the No 67 bus

Background

The Town Council have been paying £5,500 for the No 67 Bus for the last 3 years and Somerset County Council (SCC) have agreed to review the figures that are paid as several of the Councils have also expressed that they felt that the contributions were unfairly distributed.

There has been one meeting held with all of the Parishes involved and they asked SCC to rework the figures so that the contributions could be allocated more fairly. I have included recent correspondence that I have received regarding the contributions in this report.

The current contributions are:

Name of ParishContribution for 2019/20
St Cuthbert (Out)£3,300
Wedmore£1,500
Burnham & Highbridge£5,500
Mark£1,750
Burnham Without£1,000
East Huntspill£1,055
Wells City Council£2,200
Wookey£2,200
Total£18,505

Between April 2019 and March 2020 a total of 7098 passengers were made from Burnham – Wedmore the current subsidy presuming that all of those passengers are residents of Burnham and Highbridge is £0.74 each.

Parish/ TownNo of bus stop pairsPopulation as at 2011 census
Wells810536
Wedmore81409
Wookey61311
St Cuthbert Out34317
Mark51478
East Huntspill21146
Burnham Without21636
Burnham and Highbridge1419576

Financial implications

£5,500 current payment                 

£4500 in F&R budget for 2021-2022 pending outcome of discussions

The first suggestion from SCC is below and includes the methodology used:

A contribution ratio has been calculated based on the 2020/21 precept figure for each Parish.  This percentage is used to split the current contribution amounts (with CPI applied).  The CPI contract increase % has not yet been calculated for 2021/22, the figures below are to provide an indication of expected value, based on this year’s figure.  As soon as the CPI figure is known for the next financial year, the exact amounts can be confirmed. 

Wells                                      23.87%           £4,527.57

Wedmore                               7.53%             £1,428.26

Wookey                                  14.53%           £2,756.00

St. Cuthbert Out                   10.17%           £1,929.01

Mark                                       5.52%             £1,047.01

East Huntspill                       13.07%           £2,479.07

Burnham Without                 5.46%             £1,035.63

Burnham and Highbridge   19.85%           £3,765.07

                                                            Total:  £18,967.62

Bus Service Costs 20/21                            £91,404.78               

Methodology 

Accessing Council Tax statistics from Central Government, The ‘Average Band D Council Tax*’ figure was used for each Parish to calculate the above percentages.  Totalling the precept amount collected for all Parishes, then a proportion has been calculated for each individual Parish to make up of the overall amount.  

Second suggestion from SCC following feedback from one Council:

Following feedback from one Parish council, SCC have revised the methodology and recalculated the percentage split based on the total amount of precept received by each Parish. 

Parish/ TownAmount precepted on billing Authority 20/21% split for 67Estimated contribution amount based on 20/21
Wells£571,36136.51£6,925.19
Wedmore£65,0004.15£787.83
Wookey£38,0262.43£460.89
St Cuthbert Out£102,2206.53£1,238.96
Mark£17,6001.12£213.32
East Huntspill£32,5002.08£393.92
Burnham Without£20,0001.28£242.41
Burnham and Highbridge£718,21145.89£8,705.09
£1,564,918100£18,967.62
Subsidy£18,967.62

Below is an update from Mark Parish Council:

Mark Parish Council considered the revised methodology contained in the e-mail dated 27th October from SCC regarding the contributions from individual parishes towards the cost of the shortfall in running the 67 bus service at their Meeting last night.

Members considered it important to retain this bus service which performs a vital transport link for many elderly persons to services particularly in Burnham on Sea and Highbridge and Wedmore. They felt that the revised methodology from SCC was unlikely to be approved by some of the contributing Councils along the route and therefore decided to a contribution of at least £1,750 in their budget to ensure that this vital transport link is retained for another year.

Extracts from a report for St Cuthberts Out Parish Council which may be of interest:

The bus route is in two parts:

  • SECTION A: Wookey Hole – Wells – Wedmore (Mendip Community Transport)
  • SECTION B: Wedmore – Burnham-on-Sea/Highbridge

From the financial figures provided by SCC for period April 2019-March 2020:

Sales  
Cash and Concessions to end Jan 2020 (10 months)  
Section A (Wells-Wedmore)£40,49419,748 passenger journeys
Section B (Wedmore-Burnham)£16,3366,348 passenger journeys
Surplus 2019 c/f£1,375 
Parish contributions£18,505 
Total£76,710 
CoS (12 months)  
Section A – full year-£40,800 
Section B – full year-£36,534 
Saturday service-£11,985 
Total-£89,319 
P&L- to end Jan 2020-£12,609 
Parish contributions Feb & Mar£3,701 
Revenue Feb & Mar ESTIMATE£9,000 
P&L y.e. Mar 2020£92     

Note, the yellow highlighted route Wells-Wedmore (which includes Wookey Hole) is

£300 short of breakeven, while the route Wedmore-Burnham is £20,200 in deficit (green highlight). The Saturday running is assumed to apply to both sections although there are no specific details available. The prospect is that the service, with the parish contributions, will not require any top-up by SCC (from the S106 money).

 The number of passenger bus journeys west of Wedmore is less than a third of the Wedmore-Wells-Wookey Hole section of the route. In part this is explained by the non-urban populations of Wedmore eastwards to Wells being some 220% larger than those from Mark westwards to Burnham.

The numbers travelling to and from Burnham and Highbridge are reasonably constant across the year. The numbers travelling to and from Wells shows some seasonable variability with the dip in August explained by the local population vacationing.

It would seem that comparatively few seasonal visitors to the area (<10%) currently take advantage of the bus service

Below is an update from East Huntspill Parish Council:

East Huntspill considered the proposal sent over for 2021-2022 at their meeting last night and would like the 67 bus service to continue as it is a valued service in the community.  However they are prepared to contribute £1198 for the year which is within the range we have paid over the last 2 years.  This figure was a projected methodology prepared by Ed Danson from St Cuthberts Out that the Council believed to be a fair and realistic proposal.

Policy implications

Corporate Pillar 4: Healthy and Safe Environment

The Town Council will seek to provide and enhance facilities and resources to support and develop safe and well-connected towns

Options/Recommendations

At previous meetings as a Committee you have agreed that this is a valuable route for some of our residents and that you would like to contribute to it but at a lesser amount than the current contribution of £5,500.

It would be useful if the Council could agree a maximum amount for next year so that the budget can be set and presented to SCC. The amount currently in the draft budget is £4,500.

Report author: Sally Jones

Report Date: 12th November 2020           

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