Weston’s MP John Penrose has criticised First Bus and North Somerset Council for axing key bus routes just months after accepting £48M in Government cash to improve local bus services.
In April, North Somerset Council was granted £48million with a further £57.5million to be used as a pooled revenue fund with WECA from the Government’s ‘Bus Back Better’ Scheme. North Somerset Council’s leader at the time called it: “transformational funding for North Somerset delivering public transport”. This is in addition to the millions given by the Government for The Weston Town Centre Transport Enhancement Scheme, which included the new Bus Interchange. But now key local bus services, the 126, X2 and X5 are likely to be axed, prompting questions on how the money is being spent.
The changes throw North Somerset Council’s Local Plan into doubt too. John has repeatedly warned that although buses and trains must play a role in local transport improvements, the Council’s plans currently ignore options like upgrades to junction 21 and the M5 to cut jams and misery for commuters.
John said: “The Council’s transport plans are in tatters, and local residents will suffer as a result. First the Council published a fantasy plan that put all its’ eggs in the basket of public transport; ignoring essential improvements to the M5, which would help solve congestion problems, reduce damaging emissions and make Weston more attractive to businesses, investors and visitors too. Then, in April, they accepted a huge £48M Government grant to improve local buses, but just 4 months later they’re axing crucial services and trying to blame the Government, rather than explaining why things are getting worse after they’ve trousered all that taxpayer cash. If some existing bus routes aren’t being used enough, why aren’t they using the cash to develop new ones that passengers want instead? They’ve reversed Weston and the villages into a dead-end. Everyone agrees travel needs to become greener and more sustainable, but we’ll never do it if our Council doesn’t get a grip.”