Off-peak victory in battle for buses
While Labour watched our actions silently in the Council, we spoke out, used our knowledge of the Council and effectively influenced other Councillors to secure this service. It is a good starting point, and we will continue to apply pressure for a permanent 30 minute bus service.
Residents will be aware that Thamesdown Transport announced three weeks before Christmas that it was cutting the local bus service through Coleview. The company’s management claim their decision was taken because the route was losing money due to fuel increases and low passenger numbers. This decision was taken by Thamesdown Transport without any consultation with local ward Councillors or local residents, and we do not agree with it.
I live in Coleview, and local residents have contacted Cllr Richard Hurley, Kevin Parry and I with their concerns, including the difficulties this Thamesdown Transport bus cut makes in them being able to shop, go to the gp and visit friends and family.
We believe that to announce the bus cut so close to Christmas with no consultation is absolutely the wrong way to run a bus service. Cllr Richard Hurley, Kevin Parry and I have been working hard to see the bus service return, and you can read more about this effort on our website.
On Wednesday evening, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet considered a report on bus services. The Cabinet unanimously agreed to subsidize a bus service through Coleview for the first time.
The report was the direct result of a Council debate that I and Cllr Richard Hurley forced on the issue last month. By using our knowledge of the Council and effective lobbying and influencing of other Councillors, we have secured three actions:
1. Swindon Borough Council will pay Thamesdown Transport to introduce an off peak service for 12 months.
2. Residents who have difficulty walking to the Coleview bus stops are able to use mobility vouchers of £80 a year to use on schemes like Swindon Dial a Ride.
3. Swindon Borough Council will write a new bus strategy that will address passenger needs and concerns.
I have asked for the new bus strategy to include options to reinstate a permanent 30 minute and one hour bus service through Coleview! Local MP Justin Tomlinson has supported our efforts, and is also assisting in pushing Thamesdown Transport to provide a three month notice period of any future changes!
The subsidy for the off peak service is a starting point, and will see a bus service return as soon as it is possible. The off peak service is not perfect, but it ensures residents have a bus service, and allows time for Council Officers to work with us, local residents and businesses to see a permanent long term service return.
As your local ward Councillors, Richard, Kevin and I will continue to apply pressure and lobby for Coleview bus services to continue, and for a permanent 30 minute service to be reintroduced.