Decision delayed on axeing bus route 47
PEOPLE power saved the number 47 bus after two rural villages swamped the council with petitions to keep their lifeline running.
Swindon Council’s cabinet members deferred a decision on the future of the 47 service which serves Wanborough and Bishopstone villages, during a packed meeting on Wednesday night.
Around 90 residents attended to voice their anger at the ‘lack of consultation’ on the changes.
Many said they would have no way of getting to college, work, or the shops without the service.
The authority approved plans for the other subsidised buses, which included the Number 22 not running up Kingshill, to go ahead.
A recommendation for a three counties scheme, where Swindon will work with West Berkshire and Oxfordshire to run a similar service to the number 47 was proposed.
This would cost the council an extra £5,000 a year but fears were raised by residents that it would be a smaller vehicle which could leave passengers at bus stops.
Kate Griffiths, of Bishopstone, said: “The main driver of this seems to be to save money but on June 12 Swindon Council approved recommendations that the priority should be given to the rural areas that would otherwise be cut off.
“What’s happened in the last three months?”
Proposed times for the new service would see the first bus arrive in Swindon around 8.25am and a return journey at 6.10pm with a late morning and early afternoon option as well.
But many said these times would not fit in with commuters.
Leader of Swindon Council, Councillor David Renard, said the times and the size of the bus is something council officials can discuss and appealed to people to contact the authority with their views.
Chairman of Wanborough Parish Council, Gary Sumner, said: “They have done an appalling job with the consultation – hopefully lessons will be learnt. We get little enough from the borough.”
Campaigners at the meeting were told that the council paid around £9 per head per journey for passengers using the 47 bus and this was why action needed to be taken. The authority needs to make savings of around £200,000 from its local bus funding.
“It runs at a very large subsidy,” said Coun Renard, who represents the Haydon Wick ward.
“In the current economic climate we could not ignore how much it was costing.”
Leader of the Labour group, Jim Grant, urged the authority to revise its consultation process.
“We need as a council to look at the way we consult with the affected public,” said Coun Grant. “All these people have come here tonight when a decision is about to be made. We need to discuss the issues before they happen.”
Changes to the other services could be brought in by the end of October but a final decision has still not been made.
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