Businesses could save Ottery’s town bus

The public bus currently makes a regular visit to Slade Close. Ref sho 7132-06-15SH. Photo Simon Hor

The public bus currently makes a regular visit to Slade Close. Ref sho 7132-06-15SH. Photo Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Ottery’s civic leaders will appeal to the town’s big businesses for help in funding its threatened bus service, but say clarity is needed over costs.

The daily 381 service has been temporarily saved after strong opposition to its proposed withdrawal, but a long-term solution is still needed.

Speaking at a town council meeting on Monday, mayor Glyn Dobson said he would love to keep the popular bus, which was due to be axed under Devon County Council (DCC) cutbacks.

He said: “The important thing is we need to know how much it costs, and I still do not agree with the costs DCC has sent me.”

The current daily service will be reduced to three-days-a-week from April, 28, funded by money from Councillor Claire Wright’s county locality and DCC – which will withdraw its contribution in the autumn of 2015.

Cllr Dobson cited a figure of £17,000, quoted by DCC as the annual cost of keeping a three-day service running.

“I do not know how they get that figure,” he said.

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DCC’s highways boss, Cllr Stuart Hughes, last week suggested Ottery should look at a model similar to Sidmouth’s Hopper bus, which is funded primarily by businesses, the town council and a civic society.

Town councillors acknowledged that this might be an option, but said clarity on the exact cost was needed first.

Cllr Geoffrey Pratt said: “Would it not be a good idea for the council to approach Sainsbury’s and ask if they will give money to help keep it running?”

His proposal was backed and it was agreed that the developer, Bovis Homes, should also be contacted.

According to DCC figures, the bus has 13,600 users every year, higher than the usage of a number of other local services also facing the axe.

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