Villages in bus battle victory

This Is Wiltshire: Gary Sumner, who was one of those campaigning to save the number 47 bus Gary Sumner, who was one of those campaigning to save the number 47 bus

THERE has been a win/win result for residents and councillors fighting save to a bus route which serves two rural Swindon villages.

The number 47, which covers Wanborough and Bishopstone, will be replaced by the number 90 – a 16-seater bus which will be run by Go Ride and subsidised by West Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Swindon Council.

And the villages will be partly served by the Thamesdown Transport 46a and 48a which will be re-routed to take in the old 47 route to serve Wanborough students to and from college.

Initial plans had been for the council-funded bus to be scrapped altogether due to the authority needing to make savings up to £200,000 from its local bus budget.

But angry residents swamped last month’s cabinet meeting to protest against the proposals and condemned the council’s lack of consultation with people in the affected wards.

Council bosses then deferred their decision on the future of the service so more talks could take place.

It was resolved, at a meeting on Friday, between representatives from Swindon Council and the two parish councils to have the alternative service which will largely replicate the cancelled 47 route.

“To those of you who commented: You made this happen,” said chairman of Wanborough Parish Council, Gary Sumner. “There is no doubt that Swindon did not intend to offer as much as they have and they were astounded at the negative publicity/opinion from their lack of consultation – they have learnt a lesson in communication with residents.

“We have retained a broadly comparable bus service and Swindon Council’s subsidy has been cut from £65,000 to £5,000 so it might be seen as that it has been a win/win for everybody involved.

“We want to say a big thank you to all residents who became involved either by letter, telephone call, personal attendance at the cabinet meeting or the many emails that the council received. You have all helped to achieve this result. “Once again the borough council find that the villages, whilst few in number, have a big voice. We would not have this service without the reaction from our villages.”

Council leader David Renard said: “We are putting in just £10,000 per year, when our previous subsidy was £65,000, so it is a significant saving. We arrived at a win-win situation to keep the bus running through the villages at a much-reduced cost to the council taxpayer.

“I think the council always listens and we try to be flexible and helpful. “Sometimes circumstances don’t always allow that but we try to investigate and come up with something.”

The new bus arrangements will be reviewed in three to four months.

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