• Hope that Ottery’s town bus may be saved

    28th January 2016 | News | Claire
  • When the first news of cuts to the Ottery Town bus came last year, I joined passengers for a lap of the town to find out how often they used it and what the impact on their lives would be it the schedule was cut.

    Understandably, people were very upset and many told me that they relied on the bus as a lifeline, particularly as almost all are elderly and find it difficult to carry heavy shopping and manage Ottery’s hills.

    When the Sainsbury’s section 106 funding ran out, which happened last year – just before Devon County Council’s cuts were implemented, the bus days were cut from six to just two in a short space of time. I managed to fund an extra day from my locality budget, but renewing this in 2016 has proved to be impossible as it is unbelievably expensive and totals more than my year’s budget allocation! 

    I have been worried that April was looming fast, at which point Devon County Council had planned to cut the service completely.  There was no clear solution in sight as TRIP is also short of funding and also a suitable bus to provide such as service. 

    I called a meeting for 27 January with Devon County Council officers, Ottery’s mayor, Glyn Dobson and Neil Hurlock from TRIP. It emerged at the meeting that Devon County Council had agreed to carry on funding the town bus for two days a week until further notice, on the basis that TRIP is yet not in a position to take over. This is very good news and gives us breathing space to plan for a time when the council may have to withdraw the service completely.

    However, I have now written to Cllr Stuart Hughes, highways and transportation portfolio holder, urging him to agree to continue to fund the service two days a week indefinitely – to add to the service that TRIP intends to provide.  Ottery Town Councillors and I will need to work together with other parishes to pool some funding to enable TRIP to provide an additional day or days – and a bus.

    It is early days and nothing is certain, but Ottery residents – particularly bus users – can be assured that local councillors are doing what we can to retain the service.

    I will post an update when I know more.