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Written by Claire Wright   
Tuesday, 14 April 2015 00:12

In the last Ottery Gazette I wrote about the threat to the well used and much loved 381 Ottery Town bus service. The service had been started by Roger Giles, my predecessor as Ottery`s Devon County Councillor, about 15 years ago.

I was most concerned that the damage that the loss of the bus would cause to people who use it. Many people are dependent on the bus to do their shopping (spending money in Ottery`s shops), to go to the Coleridge Medical Centre, and to Ottery Hospital, and to the library, and to other Ottery facilities.

And of course it provides a door to door service for many older people who live alongside the route. Many of them would struggle to walk a long distance to a bus stop. And many would struggle with Ottery`s steep hills.

The service faced two threats: the conclusion of the two-year funding arrangement with Sainsburys (a condition of the planning approval for their Ottery store) on 25 April 2015; and the Devon County Council decision to cut its support of local bus services by £1.6 million from 1 April 2015.

I am very pleased that I have been able to provide £2,000 of locality funding, and with the help of Devon County Council (DCC) staff, have managed to keep the service running - but for three days a week. The Ottery Town bus has been running six morning trips and three afternoon trips on six days a week – Monday to Saturday. Under the new arrangements the service will run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. These are the days that users preferred.

DCC`s budget is likely to remain under severe pressure for some time, and there may well be further funding difficulties for it, but for now I am absolutely delighted that the Ottery Town service will continue to provide its invaluable service.