Regarding the letter from P. Lawson (Gazette, March 9), firstly, the continuation of the No 12 bus was never an option open to Littlehampton Town Council.
The developer funding for that had run out and the only opportunity to provide any bus at all comes from the North Littlehampton development.
Second, the new route has been agreed as serving the new estates in the north of the town connecting with Morrisons, Wick Street, Littlehampton town centre and the seafront, including both the Windmill and leisure centre.
It has been designed to serve the maximum number of people within the budget provided, which allows one bus to run a daytime hourly service at a total cost in the region of £100,000 per year.
Third, I totally agree that if permitting out-of-town stores at the expense of town-centre provision should be made for public transport. Arun District Council has failed to do this.
It is only at the insistence of the town council that some money was put aside from the new developments in North Littlehampton to allow us to run any new service at all.
Fourth, in response to the consultation feedback I have insisted that talks are held with Arun Accessible Transport about how the town council can help to ensure the shopper services they run are able to pick up those displaced by the ending of the No 12 route. Also, we work with Compass to ensure all the current users of the No 12 are properly informed of the situation, as well as informing as wide an audience as possible about the new route.
Fifth, it is my view that the system of having individual parishes negotiating bus routes from S106 monies is not the right way to be doing this. A strategic approach to bus routes should be adopted across parish boundaries with either the district or county council as the lead.
Finally, it is important to note that the 700 bus route still runs and will be connected with this new service in Littlehampton town centre.
I appreciate that this situation is neither ideal nor easy. However, it was the unanimous view of Littlehampton town councillors that we had to prioritise facilities in our town. Improving that offering is high priority and demonstrated by the fact people demand a service to take them elsewhere. We are concerned to hear that yet another out-of-town store is soon likely to be approved along the A259, Rustington, meaning there will be three major retail units, a new leisure complex and hotel in a location inaccessible to anybody except car users.
This, at a time when there is a large retail unit standing empty in our town centre.
This situation should never have been allowed to happen.
Cllr Derrick Chester
Littlehampton Town Council
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