Bid to save bus route

Thursday 26th February 2015 12:00 am
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USERS of the 318 Okehampton Town Bus are petitioning Devon County Council to keep the service going after announcing the latter said it is looking at cutting the service.

The council has launched a consultation on bus proposals to cut £1.7-million from its annual public transport budget over the next two financial years.

In January councillors agreed to reduce its expenditure on bus services that require council funding to operate.

People across the county are now being asked for their views on the proposed reductions to services which are being put forward.

It is proposed that Okehampton will lose a number of services. Among these are the Okehampton Town Service 318, the leisure and tourism service 187 from Okehampton to Gunnislake and Fare Car 12, which serves the Okehampton and Holsworthy areas.

Around 300 users of the service have signed a petition in the last fortnight asking Devon County Council to keep the 318 service.

The petition was started by Okehampton resident Sheila Trivett. Sheila said Okehampton 'would go to pot' should funding cuts continue to affect services like the buses.

She said:'I was utterly disgusted to recently read about the scrapping of the town bus within Okehampton and the surrounding areas.

'This facility is vital for everyone — families with children use the bus to get them to school. The elderly and disabled people who cannot drive rely on this service.

'I understand that even more houses are going to be built on the outskirts of the town but yet there will be none or very little transport to get them from A to B.

'Does the council assume that everyone has their own transport?

'Do they not realise that by withdrawing this valuable service they will probably also be taking trade away from our local shops?

'Most of the elderly will be housebound without the regular bus service. The council should think before it acts — surely it has to rethink this decision.

'All the pensioners I have spoken to have said they don't mind paying half fare to keep the service going.'

The 318 bus provides a transport link between Okehampton, North Tawton and Sampford Courtenay.

It also provides transport around the town, from the heart of the town centre in Fore Street to Giblands Park, Leeze Park, Okehampton Station, Moyses Meadow, The Heathers and other stops around the town.

The council has proposed that a shopping journey for Giblands Park, Hunter's Gate, Leeze Park and the station would be provided by a revised 178 service and North Tawton to Okehampton would retain peak time buses.

The council has also noted that Giblands Park has alternative services along Exeter Road, that North Tawton and Sampford Courtenay would be served by the Stagecoach 5A service, Exeter Road, Crediton Road, Limehayes Road and Okehampton Hospital would be served by the Service 11 and the community transport ring and ride service provides in-town services on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Despite all these alternatives, the estimated number of passenger journeys per year no longer catered for on the alternative services is 7,641. Cutting the 318 bus service, say the council, would save £65,701.

The potential cuts come as part of the council's efforts to save £110-million by 2017 —£50-million in the coming financial year, due to its reduced settlement from central government.

This is despite the authority having already saved £100-million over the past four years.

The consultation closes on Monday, April 20.

Full details of all of the proposals are available online at http://www.toughchoices.co.uk">www.toughchoices.co.uk

l What are your thoughts on the potential cuts? Get in touch and let us know by emailing us at [email protected]">[email protected] or send us a letter at Okehampton Times, The Ockment Centre, North Street, Okehampton, EX20 1AR.

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