Conservative councillors in Midsomer Norton have welcomed moves by Bath and North East Somerset Council to investigate the cost of tendering a more frequent bus service between Bristol and the Norton-Radstock area. However, they have vowed to keep up the pressure on First Bus to deliver on its expected service improvements as part of the Greater Bristol Bus Network project, which is a partnership scheme between the former Avon councils and First Bus.
Conservative Councillors Shirley Steel, Barry Macrae, John Whittock and Chris Watt recently wrote to Justin Davies, the Managing Director of First Somerset and Avon, seeking reassurance on First Bus’s commitment to improving services to Midsomer Norton.
However, in a response from First, Justin Davies stated that the company has made ‘no commitment’ to an hourly direct service between Bristol and the Norton-Radstock area.
Local Councillors in Midsomer Norton have argued that this is not in the spirit of the Greater Bristol Bus Network Project, which aims to improve and encourage bus travel in the region and has included significant investment on new bus stops, bus lanes and ‘real-time’ information displays. The councillors are now tabling a question to the West of England Partnership’s ‘Joint Transport Committee’ on the 24th of April asking for pressure to be put on First Bus by the West of England Partnership to deliver service improvements.
Councillor Chris Watt (Con, Midsomer Norton Redfield) commented:
“First Bus is showing little sign of delivering on the service improvements we expected between Bristol and Midsomer Norton. So B&NES Council is to be congratulated for its proactive approach in investigating the potential cost of putting a more frequent service out to tender.
“However, we must continue to press First Bus to deliver the more frequent timetable which would keep to the spirit of the Greater Bristol Bus Network project.”
Cllr Shirley Steel (Con, Midsomer Norton North) added:
“Along with my Conservative colleagues, I was very disappointed with First Bus’s response when we sought reassurance over their commitment to a more frequent Bristol to Norton-Radstock service. It must therefore be welcomed that the Council is considering all options with all operators to improve services to our area.
“In the meantime, we will be asking the former Avon councils in the West of England Partnership to hold First to account.”