Thursday, 19 July 2018

Bus routes saved as council agrees to help pay for them

FOUR bus routes in Henley have been saved after town councillors pledged up to £10,000.

FOUR bus routes in Henley have been saved after town councillors pledged up to £10,000.

The Whites Coaches services were under threat after Oxfordshire County Council decided to withdraw funding for subsidised routes across the county.

Now Henley Town Council is set to provide a grant towards the running costs of the services when the subsidies end on July 20.

Councillors are discussing how much to give the company. A maximum contribution of £10,000 towards the costs of £13,000 has been  suggested.

The remainder of the money could be found through developer contributions made to South Oxfordshire District Council.

Meanwhile, Whites has confirmed that all four internal town services, the 151, 152, 153 and 154 from Henley town hall, will now run on an amended schedule from Monday to Friday and will no longer run on Saturdays.

The 151 to Elizabeth Road, Gillotts School and Greys Road will run from 10am to 2.16pm with an additional bus for Gillotts School students at 8.35am.

The 152 to Watermans Road and South Avenue will run from 9.16am to 1.30pm, while the 153 to Luker Avenue will be in service from 9.45am to 1.54pm.

The 154 to Greys Road and Blandy Road will run from 9.30am to 1.45pm.

The Whites service from Woodcote to Henley has been scrapped and Woodcote passengers will instead be picked up by the company’s Caversham to Henley bus.

The town council will work with Whites to produce a business plan aimed at making the service self- sufficient in future.

Mayor Julian Brookes said: “The town clerk is currently digging through the Whites accounts and we will be talking about the council’s contribution over the next week or so. We want to make sure this money goes to a Henley bus service and not just to Whites as a company.

“I feel it is an important service but I want to see what we can do to make it commercially viable rather than just throw money at it. I’m sure that will happen if people get behind it.”

Last week, the Henley Standard revealed that two South Oxfordshire district councillors had pledged up to £8,000 to keep the Whites services in the town going.

Former mayors Lorraine Hillier and Stefan Gawrysiak said they would donate the money from their individual councillor budgets, a scheme introduced under the district council’s new corporate plan.

However, these will not take effect until April next year.

Meanwhile, an amended Thames Travel service between Wallingford and Henley has been confirmed.

The 139 bus will also stop at Crowmarsh Gifford and Nettlebed from Monday to Saturday and peak journeys will be extended to serve Henley College.

There will also be minor changes to the service’s Sunday timetable with the new routes set to come into service after July 24.

In November, a Henley woman launched a campaign to save bus services in the town.

Donna Crook said the loss of the subsidy cuts would affect people like her 88-year-old father Peter Roberts, who suffers from dementia.

Ms Crook said Mr Roberts, of Trust Corner, would be left housebound without a bus service or she would have to give up work to help him.

More than 2,000 signed her petition and Ms Crook joined an anti-cuts demonstration before a meeting of the county council to decide the future of the subsidies.

Councillors opted to cut the entire £3.7million subsidised transport services budget but almost half of the 118 subsidised routes will continue with the agreement of operators.

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