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X53 service to stop running during winter
PROPOSALS to cut back the X53 coastal bus service on Sundays in the winter have sparked fierce opposition in West Dorset.
The bus, which goes from Lyme Regis to Weymouth, is due to stop running on the Sabbath from November 4 onwards as Dorset County Council has no funding for it.
Bridport Town Council is to write a letter of protest to the county council after an outcry at a recent plans meeting when it was addressed by Alan Williams of the Western Area Transport Action Group (WATAG).
But speakers and councillors – including Ron Coatsworth and John Russell – also spoke against the idea at a county council environment overview committee.
Members of the environment overview committee recommended that the county council’s cabinet investigate ways to keep the X53 going on Sundays over the winter as a special case.
It came after Coun Ron Coatsworth told the committee: “If implemented they will isolate the residents of the coastal villages who are unable to drive or do not have use of the car.”
Coun Coatsworth, who is the Bride Valley county councillor, added: “I can assure you that there is real anger in the local population.”
Coun John Russell, who is the district councillor for Burton Bradstock, said that public transport was already thin on the ground.
He warned that people travelling to work, especially the young working in the hospitality industry, would suffer as well as those heading for the hospital and tourists.
Pensioner Barbara James, of Burton Bradstock, emphasised how important the X53 and tourism was for the local economy She called for the service to be kept going at least until Christmas.
Environment overview committee members agreed to ask the cabinet to look at finding some money – about £18,000 – without having any impact on any other service.
Mr Williams also warned of changes to the X53 and the 31 service from Axminster to Weymouth when he addressed the town council earlier in the week.
He warned that the first and last services on Sunday mornings and evenings on the 31 were stopping on Sundays over the winter.
He also outlined other reductions and changes to the timetables which would affect link-ups to train services at Axminster.
Coun Phil Lathey was among the councillors to demand a rethink.
The council agreed to write to the county council and also ask that the town council be fully consulted on any review of services.