Tessa was extremely disappointed to learn that Somerset County Council has refused to listen to the concerns of local people and has decided to withdraw all funding for the 490 bus service which runs every Tuesday morning between Cheddar and Bristol.
After completing his ‘consultation process’, the Cabinet Member responsible for public transport, County Councillor Harvey Siggs, confirmed the withdrawal of this service. The 490 bus stops running on 22nd May.
The County Council suggests that those who currently use the 490 bus should get to Bristol by catching a bus from Cheddar to Wells or Weston-super-Mare and then transfer to Bristol. However using this alternative involves a round trip of six hours.
At one of her regular Cheddar surgeries, Tessa met locals who informed her that there are often more than thirty-five people on the 490 bus, several of whom go to hospital appointments in Bristol. The bus is usually full and is relied on by many to get to appointments, do their shopping, or travel to see relatives.
For many elderly and frail passengers, the 490 bus is the only cost efficient and direct route into the city. It is unfair and unreasonable to expect anyone to endure a three hour journey to attend a vital appointment less than 20 miles away – and the same coming back!
Tessa wrote to the County Council, saying local people would be happy if the bus could continue maybe once every fortnight. However, Cllr Siggs and his colleagues disregarded the pleas of local people, and were not even willing to meet them half way.
Tessa said “I am extremely disappointed that The County Council has again demonstrated that it does not understand local people’s needs. The withdrawal of funding from essential bus services is unfair and short-sighted. I am astonished that the County Council was not prepared even to offer a reduced fortnightly service on this route, which is a lifeline for many. Somerset has a budget of £1.9m to subsidise bus routes across the county but claims it is unable to fund even occasional bus travel between Cheddar and Bristol. I have written to the Chief Executive to ask her why this is the case.”
“I hope the new Conservative County Council Leader will appreciate the importance of this essential front line service for local people.”