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Dorset County Council approve cuts and changes to bus routes
DORSET County Council’s cabinet has approved a raft of cuts to bus services.
However, a number of routes previously threatened with the axe have been spared.
The council has been consulting on proposed changes to its bus network in an attempt to trim more than £800,000 from its subsidy.
The changes backed by councillors at a meeting yesterday will see a number of routes withdrawn or revised across the county from April next year.
However, after officers estimated the savings achieved through changes originally proposed would be £970,000 rather than the £850,000 previously suggested, members decided to reinstate a number of services.
They focussed on key Saturday services and preserving a minimum weekly service for isolated communities as well as earmarking an additional £25,000 for the council's community transport budget.
Cabinet member for environment Hilary Cox said the whole process had been about trying to achieve the best possible bus service for residents of Dorset in light of the savings that had to be made.
She said: “Having accepted we need the budget savings we had to go out and see how we can provide the best possible service with the budget available to us.”
The cabinet was advised that, after allocating £25,000 to the community transport budget, it then had a further £95,000 that it could use to reinstate routes or limit the losses on some services.
However, the committee went beyond that and earmarked additional options estimated to cost around £122,000, with council leader Spencer Flower claiming some of the balance in savings could be found as the process moves forward.
Among those services to receive some kind of reprieve was the 103 service between Bovington and Dorchester, serving Wool, Lulworth Cove, Winfrith, Owermoigne, Warmwell, Woodsford and West Stafford.
The service was due to be axed completely but the cabinet agreed to retain a weekly service allowing residents in the villages to get into Dorchester on Wednesdays.
Councillor Andy Canning spoke in support of the route at the meeting. He said: “I do think it's important certain villages do maintain a minimum basic service.”
Concerns were also raised about the number 387 service from Dorchester that was due to stop at Bere Regis rather than continuing its journey onto Poole.
Members agreed to a twice weekly shopping trip connecting the route with Poole.
Cabinet member Toni Coombs said: “This is very crucial to a lot of communities and our decision has been done with considerable care.”
Routes facing the axe and some of the services that will be affected when the changes come into force next April:
Number 1 and 2 Dorchester town services – revised Monday to Saturday service to save £4,650
Number 6 Dorchester Station to Poundbury – revised Monday to Saturday service to save £4,650
Number 73 Maiden Newton, Powerstock, Bridport – withdraw Saturday service to save £12,428
Number 101 Owermoigne, Crossways, West Knighton, Broadmayne, Dorchester – withdraw Saturday services to save £16,409
Number 103 Bovington, Wool, Lulworth Cove, Winfrith, Warmwell, Woodsford, Dorchester – service initially withdrawn to save £107,045.90 but cabinet agreed to reinstate a weekly market day journey on Wednesdays at a cost of £9,500.
Numbers 183, 184 and 185 Weymouth, Dorchester, Blandford (Blandford Camp), Salisbury – Sunday services withdrawn to save £14,000
Number 210 Litton Cheney to Bridport - Saturday service withdrawn to save £6,230
Number 211 Weymouth to Poundbury – Saturday service withdrawn to save £3,995
Number 212 Dorchester, Maiden Newton, Chetnole, Yeovil – no immediate change but council looking at conversion to community transport or further revision to lower costs
Number 311 Blandford, Winterborne Stickland, Milton Abbas, Hilton, Dewlish, Dorchester – Saturday service to be withdrawn and revised weekday service to save £50,000
Number 387 Dorchester, Affpuddle, Bere Regis, Morden, Lychett Matravers, Poole – service retained only from Bere Regis to Dorchester from Monday to Friday to save estimated £135,149.39 but cabinet agreed to twice weekly shopper service to Poole at an estimated cost of £15,000
X53 service Poole, Wareham, Wool, Weymouth, Abbotsbury, Bridport, Lyme Regis, Exeter – council funding already withdrawn to save £107,000.