With reference to Carole Molloy’s letter, ‘Fears over bus route changes’ (Gazette, February 2), I would like to respond as follows on behalf of the town council.
The no. 12 bus service has been funded by developer funding from Morrisons for the few years and before that by Tesco, following its refurbishment. This funding is now exhausted and the present contact for the no. 12 service comes to an end in April, 2017.
To wholly fund a subsidised service is outside the scope of the council’s budget, although we have been topping up developer funding for a number of years to ensure the service can continue.
However, there is funding coming online for a new bus service provided by the developers of Courtwick (Kingley Gate) and North Littlehampton (Toddington) to ensure that their new residents are connected to local services during the interim build-out period.
This funding will only provide the cost of running a bespoke bus service for two to three years, which is not a viable contract term for a commercial operator.
As a result, members of the town council have decided to make a ‘significant contribution’ to enable a contract to be tendered for a five-year period.
With regard to the route, the service has to be a circular route that can be achieved within an hourly service. If that was stretched it would require the use of a second bus and driver, which would literally double the cost.
During the consultation on the neighbourhood plan, the key facilities in the town were identified as the lesiure centre, seafront, town centre, station, river and GP services, and various permutations of a service connecting these pick-up points have been discussed at town council planning meetings over the past year.
Obviously, any route must service the new developments as developer funding is being utilised to ensure connectivity to their developments, but the proposed new route also accommodates all the above key pick-up points, including the seafront and Fitzalan Road.
If the route was extended any further to include the out-of-town supermarkets it would take it beyond an hourly service. However, the new service will link to the town centre and Morrisons.
Please be assured that the town council will always respect local views and while we cannot accommodate every request will try to deliver the best service we can for local residents, balanced against achieving the best value from our council budget.
There are a number of other options that will provide service to out-of-town supermarkets – for example, Arun Co-ordinated Community transport – and we would be happy to refer people to these services if required.
Cllr Derrick Chester
Littlehampton Town Council
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