Taxi scheme is no replacement for bus say Southwick villagers

Morning weather and travel: Bleak start to the day

0
Have your say

VILLAGERS are calling for the county council to look again at plans to replace their only bus service with a once-a-day taxi.

Southwick and North Boarhunt are set to lose the bus routes 38 and 138, which go through their villages en route from Fareham to Wickham and Cosham, as a result of Hampshire County Council withdrawing its subsidy.

There will now be taxis leaving North Boarhunt at 9.30am and heading to the Queen Alexandra Hospital and Cosham Health Centre on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with a return journey from Cosham at 11.40am.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays the taxis will run at the same times to and from The Square in Wickham. Anyone needing to use this service must call to book a spot by 4pm the day before.

Southwick parish council chairman Cllr Jim Watson has met Cllr Mel Kendal, who is in charge of transport matters for the county council, to discuss the scheme.

The parish council had carried out its own research on how the bus service was used.

But Cllr Watson said he was ‘disappointed’ with the county’s response.

He said: ‘We fully understood the financial pressures which forced the county council to decide to end the subsidies for the 38 and 138 bus services.

‘But clearly Cllr Kendal and his officers failed to listen to the representations identifying the needs and requirements of this community, because the timings of the proposal are, quite frankly, no good to man nor beast.

‘No consideration has been given to the young and elderly who rely on public transport to access education, recreational and essential services, who will now be imprisoned into social isolation and unable to enjoy county and district-provided services available to other Hampshire residents, because they will not be able to travel to access them.’

The bus ran six round trips a day.

Cllr Watson added: ‘I want Cllr Kendal to reassure us he will take a second look at the alternative ideas and suggestions to provide a meaningful service for a unique, isolated, community and review his decision to force through a taxi share model.’

Cllr Kendal was unavailable to comment.

He had previously said the cuts were the result of ‘difficult decisions’.