A NEWLY launched bus route serving Shaftesbury’s High Street has been forced to change, after it was given the green light when appropriate measures were not in place.

The X2 bus service linking The Maltings, Shaftesbury town centre and Gillingham railway station started last week, but it has now been diverted to go around the pedestrianised High Street as a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) is not yet in force.

Dorset councillor for Shaftesbury Derek Beer, who was unaware the service was starting, added that because of the lack of TRO the county council’s actions were “illegal”. As a result the High Street section of the bus route has been withdrawn.

As previously reported, Dorset Council announced the launch of the X2 buses at the end of August, permitting them to travel one-way only down the High Street at no more than 5mph.

It was heard at a Shaftesbury Town Council planning and highways meeting however that town councillors had not been consulted about the launch date or route, and were concerned how the bus service would work alongside the pedestrianisation scheme.

Cllr Beer had predicted a temporary TRO would be in force by the end of September, and was “surprised” to hear from the county council that the bus service was given permission to travel along the High Street, despite pedestrianisation rules.

He said: “We need buses going through again, to bring shoppers back to see the beauty of the town, it was always going to happen and it was just a question of when. We were all surprised to hear the service was going ahead already.

“This has been a confusing and disappointing time, now these bus stops are shut again what am I going to tell people. This is frustrating because we just want to bring people into the town. We should have been involved with this decision making.”

A consultation discussing the X2 bus service and a TRO went ahead this morning.

Speaking about the pedestrianised High Street, Cllr Beer added: “While some town councillors wanted to stop these buses coming through most people want this service.

“There are environmental and social benefits to these lovely brand new vehicles. People need to stop thinking buses are monsters that will not be used. Shaftesbury streets are unique so we can never have total pedestrianisation - [High Street] can work with three buses an hour.”