Anger as Ottery’s town bus service faces axe

PUBLISHED: 06:26 03 February 2015 | UPDATED: 16:15 04 February 2015

Bus Stop.

Bus Stop.

Archant

Ottery residents have reacted with shock and anger to the news their town bus service is under threat.

One user has said it will be a ‘crying shame’ if the 381 is axed under proposals announced by Devon County Council (DCC) this week.

The authority is planning a raft of cuts across Devon as part of a bid to save £1.7million from its annual budget over the next two years. A public consultation has been launched.

Under the proposed changes, the daily Ottery town service – which currently relies partly on soon-to-be-expired funding from Sainsbury’s – would be completely withdrawn.

Councillor Roger Giles said he is ‘extremely concerned’ about the threat to the bus, and hopes another solution can be found.

“I recognise that DCC has been forced by the Government to make severe and damaging budget cuts,” he added. “However, I am deeply upset by plans to stop funding this very well used and important service, which I first pressed DCC to provide when I was Ottery’s Devon county councillor about 12 years ago.

“The 381 service allows many older and less able people to access Ottery’s hospital, medical centre, library and other services.”

He added that if the service stops, it would be likely to have a damaging effect on local trade in the town.

Regular bus user Carol Bennett, 70, told the Herald: “It would be a crying shame if the bus goes - a lot of people depend on it.”

“I use it such a lot - it’s very important.”

“The drivers all treat us all with consideration and it is their livelihoods.”

Phyllis Baxter, from Ottery Tourist Information Centre, was shocked to hear the bus is under threat and predicted people in the town will be ‘horrified’.

“The bus has been a great thing for the townspeople,” she said.

“A lot of people are on their own and it enables them to meet up with friends.”

Funding cuts will also affect the 387 route, which runs between Sidmouth and Taunton, via Ottery.

DCC is encouraging people to come forward with comments about the proposed changes.

A public consultation closes on Monday, April 20.

Full details are available online at: www.toughchoices.co.uk.


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