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Bus services to be cut
PROPOSED changes to bus services in Dorset are set to hit residents in rural areas of Wiltshire.
Dorset County Council is proposing to make significant reductions in the funding it provides for buses from January next year.
Changes to the 59/158 service from Mere to Gillingham and Shaftesbury will see the weekend service cut. Local councillor George Jeans said cutting the bus services in Mere is “creating a vicious circle”.
“It becomes impossible for people to live here without a car so fewer people use the bus service, so they take it away. They need to do something to attract people to use the buses,” he said.
“Mere is supposed to be a sustainable settlement but people still need to get out of the town to shop or see relatives; we still need public transport.”
Dorset County Council also plans to replace the 183/4 Salisbury Reds service from Salisbury to Blandford, which stops at Coombe Bissett and Sixpenny Handley.
The service currently operates several buses a day, every day, but changes will see it replaced with a new 20 service, operated by Damory, offering three full return trips a day from Monday to Friday.
The weekend service will be cut altogether. Sixpenny Handley Parish Council says the proposals are “atrocious” and it is encouraging residents to voice their concerns to the council.
Ian White, head of service passenger transport at Wiltshire Council, said: “Although we will seek to influence the proposals so that the needs of Wiltshire residents are taken into account, the funding for this service is currently provided by Dorset and as Wiltshire Council’s budget is under great pressure there is regrettably likely to be a limit on what we can achieve in this respect. “We are aware of the importance of an earlier journey into Salisbury arriving at around 8.20am and will be discussing this with Dorset.”
Spencer Flower, leader of Dorset County Council, said: “We are keen to understand the individual impacts that the changes will have. We can then look to helping with community initiatives in the highlighted areas that can provide residents with a better, tailored service that fits their needs.
“Many of the rural buses have very little usage and we have had to look at ways of providing a better value for money service by empowering local groups to work together. In all parts of Dorset there have been successes with Neighbourcar and Dial-a-car schemes that offer residents a bespoke service.”
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