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Jobs at risk if number 47 bus is cut
WORKERS and students could lose jobs and college places if the No 47 bus from Bridport to Yeovil is cut.
Campaigners trying to save the No 47 say it is a vital commuter bus - not a little-used obscure one-a-week village bus.
A deputation talked to Bridport Town Council on Tuesday to high¬light their fight.
The campaigners have started a petition and are meeting with council members, MPs and trying to raise awareness.
Dorset County Council's cabinet agreed at the end of December to continue funding the peak time service, which transports students to and from Yeovil College, jointly with Somerset County Council, but only until the end of the summer term in June.
There are no firm propos¬als on the table to continue the service after this date, said Dorset County Councillor Ros Kayes.
Bridport's Western Area Transport Action Group (WATAG) last week hosted its largest number for many years because of the 47's uncertain future.
WATAG chairman Peter Smith said: "This route provides a service not only to students and workers along the route but an essential connection for villages along the way.
"Although DCC are looking for ways of preserving at least some of the service it is by no means certain.
Among the campaigners hoping to secure the future of the No 47 bus is Andy Pennington.
He works for the local authority in Yeovil and has been using the 47 since 2007.
He says he could lose his job if the bus doesn't run because he hasn't a car and only a provisional driving licence.
He said: "There are a whole group of people who regularly get the bus to work from Bridport, a few more from Beaminster, a few more from Crewkerne.
"People use the bus for a variety of reasons, hospital appointments, shopping, leisure, social.
"Looking at the Dorset County cabinet minutes to keep the peak time service during the college holidays is only about £14,000.
"We are really staggered, this is a commuter bus, not a really obscure, once a week bus.
"It is very short-sighted."
He said it was ironic that Dorset County Council leader, and former East Dorset District Council leader Spencer Flowers' expenses for 2012/3 were £42,846 Mr Pennington added: ""The subsidy is a fraction of his expenses.
"Because of the uncertainty it is affecting people's choice of college courses from what the students tell me Yeovil offers them more scope than Weymouth."
Yeovil College student Linzi Crabb used the town council's public forum to say that without the bus, students would have to find other college places.
"For most of us that is not an option," she added.
"If I have troubles at home, I know I can go to college. You get to see friends and you get to learn."
Coun Ros Kayes said the 47 is strategically vital.
She said: "Economically it's a lifeline to this part of West Dorset and we must not lose it. I'm calling on both county councils to recognise the importance of this service and to support it beyond April 2014 if there is no commercial alterna¬tive.
"There has been no economic impact assessment of the consequences of axing the bus."
Bridport's Western Area Transport Action Group (WATAG) last week hosted its largest meeting for many years because of the uncertain future of the No 47, which provides a vital link to to South West Trains.
WATAG chairman Peter Smith said: "This service which has only been saved by an emergency sub¬sidy by Dorset and Somerset County Councils until the end of the Yeovil College term in June.
"We are recommending con¬cerned users to contact both their county councillors and town and parish councils as a concerted effort is needed to preserve this currently well used but loss mak¬ing service. "
Campaigners will be at the Spirit of Bridport event on Saturday asking people to sign their petition which asks Dorset and Somerset County Councils and Yeovil College to recognise the strategic importance of the 47 bus and calls on them to commit to continuing to subsidise it.
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