Somerset County Council reconsiders bus route cuts plan

Plans to withdraw funding from some bus routes in Somerset have been put on hold by the county council.

After a review of all 108 subsidised services, the council has changed its plans after talks with passengers and bus companies.

Although cuts of £1.5m remain in place, 28 routes will be withdrawn and 24 routes will have a reduced service.

Previously 35 routes were set to be withdrawn and service reductions were planned for a further 18 routes.

'Incredibly important'

Cabinet member for Highways, Harvey Siggs, said: "It's not an unmitigated success, I don't want people to think that 'oh great, it's a huge thing and it's saved all these'.

"I still have to take a million and a half out of the budget of three-and-a-half million pounds. I said last summer we would listen and talk to the bus operators and bus interest groups, and we consulted on every single route."

A total of 1,500 people took part in the consultation over the Christmas and New Year period.

The 300 service, which runs along the coast in West Somerset and into Devon, was one of the threatened routes and will now be cut back by 50% rather than a complete service cancellation.

Although 28 routes will be withdrawn under the new plans, the council has said eight of them will be reinstated by bus firms without any subsidy and more could follow.

Campaigner Mark Saunders, who runs a pub in West Somerset, said: "We have retained a service between Minehead and Lynton, it's incredibly important for local people."

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