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Lobbyists claim victory on bus cuts

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: February 11, 2014

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CONCERTED lobbying by local councillors has helped improve services for west Cornwall's beleaguered bus users.

In recent months, the departure from Penwith of Western Greyhound, subsequent changes to timetables and the announcements of price hikes by First Bus company and of a reduced support grant by Cornwall Council have all conspired to make life harder for people travelling by public transport in the far west of the county.

But a meeting last week saw 11 Cornwall councillors and around 30 town and parish councillors meet with representatives of the council's passenger transport unit, bus operator First and Bert Biscoe, the Cabinet member for transport, to thrash out their concerns.

At the meeting council officers and First made a number of commitments.

It was agreed that Cornwall Council would fund an extra service to the Roscadghill estate, leaving at 11am and returning from Penzance at 1.15pm while First agreed to look at reducing the price of the ticket from Heamoor to Penzance – currently £3.

It was also agreed that a new service would be introduced serving residents on the Gernick estate in Newlyn while First has also agreed to review its charges – now up to £12 a week – for the Paul-Mousehole-Newlyn to Penzance service which is used by many pupils attending Humphry Davy and Mounts Bay schools.

And the situation in St Erth, which has been significantly affected by the recent changes, will be looked at as a matter of priority.

Anomalies

In addition, both Cornwall Council and First agreed to investigate areas where there are anomalies in Penwith in terms of charging and service.

Cornwall councillor Jim McKenna, who helped co-ordinate the meeting, said the results were "very positive".

"No other part of Cornwall has done what we have done and come together to highlight the problems," he said.

"It has been a fantastic collective effort by all the councillors and we have had great assistance from Gordon Edwards from TravelWatch SouthWest, who has done a lot of detailed work.

"We will meet again if we need to and will carry on making representations but it must be stressed that the final decisions rest with the portfolio holder and Cabinet and in the future people will probably have to expect fewer services."

At the meeting, councillors unanimously agreed to seek improved levels of funding for supported bus services and also pressed for funding to trial community bus schemes.

Councillor Mario Fonk, who has campaigned hard on behalf of Roscadghill residents, welcomed the new service to the estate and urged people to use their bus.

"I know that this is still a reduction from what we had before but these are extremely hard times and money is very tight," he said.

"I hope that the service will be improved further once financial circumstances improve. In the meantime I urge people to please use the buses more often – it is a case of use it or lose it."

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