COUNCILLORS have announced the return of a ‘vital’ town bus service after it was axed in the latest round of funding cuts. 

In February, Dorset County Council announced it would cut subsidies for bus services in a bid to save £1.85m, leading Damory to deregister a host of services across West Dorset. 

Lyme Regis Town Council has now announced it will fully fund a replacement town bus after the 71 service was scrapped in July. 

The town council stepped in to provide a short-term solution, with Dorset Community Transport providing a ‘ring and ride’ service two days a week.

Meanwhile, councillors have been considering options to replace it with a more permanent service, and announced its new partnership with Damory Go South West last Friday (AUG 25).

The ring and ride service will end tomorrow (SEPT 1) and will be replaced on Monday (SEPT 4) by the new service, which will continue to be called service 71.

A special meeting of the town council was called last Tuesday (August 22) to urgently agree the new service and ensure that a reliable public transport system is put in place.

Councillors have agreed to fund a town bus for three years in the first instance. 

It will run from Monday to Friday, including school holidays, using the same stops and running to the same timetable as the previous service 71.

Richard Doney, vice-chairman of the town council’s tourism, community and publicity committee, said: “An awful lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes to make this possible. 

"Reinstating the town bus service will bring back a vital local service, funded locally for the benefit of local residents and others. 

“I’m delighted the council has been able to make this possible and look forward to the service commencing on 4 September.”

As before, the company will operate a 35-seat low-floor bus and concessionary bus passes will be accepted.

Damory made the service possible when it won a contract to provide a school bus service to Charmouth, freeing up a bus and driver in the Lyme Regis area.

Damory’s managing director Andrew Wickham said: “We are delighted to be working with support from Lyme Regis Town Council to reinstate the 71 bus service. 

“This is an important route for many of the town’s residents and visitors, and we look forward to welcoming all on board from Monday.”

Cllr Doney is urging residents to 'use it or lose it' to ensure it continues to operate in the future.

He said:"I would encourage people to make good use of the service to ensure its longer term sustainability. 

“It will be a new administration when the contract comes up for renewal and they might have different financial priorities and pressures. 

“A healthy 'ridership' would strengthen the argument for continuation beyond the initial three years.”