Meeting documents

SWT Corporate Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 1st February, 2023 6.15 pm



A presentation and final update on the conclusions of the work of the Public Transport Task and Finish Group that was set up to examine the current provision in relation to public transport in the district and what is required to increase provision and improved modal links including consideration of carbon neutrality.


This item will be introduced by Chair of the Public Transportation Task and Finish Group, Councillor Loretta Whetlor, and supported by by Marcus Prouse, Governance Specialist.






Cllr Loretta Whetlor thanked the members of the Task and Finish Group for their input, and Marcus Prouse for providing administrative support. The work of the group had been disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as such there had not been sufficient time and resource to provide a written report to the Committee.


Marcus Prouse showed a series of slides which provided an overview on the work undertaken by the Public Transport Task and Finish Group. These had been circulated to the Committee prior to the meeting, together with a series of conclusions.


Members of the Committee made the following comments:-


·       Was the work on the work-place parking levy followed up and what was the outcome? This had been researched but not implemented. This was mainly due to the impact COVID-19 had on commuting. It was generally accepted that less people were travelling into the offices to work.

·       The introduction of £1/£2 subsidised bus fares across the county was welcomed and had increased use of the bus service. The Committee was also pleased with the re-implementation of the late bus service on certain routes. This allowed workers to use the service and assisted the parking situation at Musgrove Park Hospital.

·       It was raised that students were not eligible to claim the subsidised bus fare and were tied into the school transport agreement.

·       Although the increased public transport between West Somerset and Taunton was welcomed, there was still a very limited service from Minehead to Bridgwater. There was currently only 1 daily bus each way that served Bridgwater/Taunton College and operated in term time. This was not sufficient because there were as many work opportunities in Bridgwater as Taunton. The free Hinkley Bus alleviated this problem somewhat, but due to the erosion of the coast road at Cleeve Hill, Watchet this now did not travel to the pickup point at Blue Anchor.

·       It was asked whether Butlins could be encouraged to provide transport for their guests on change-over days, especially from the Taunton train station. Very often these buses were over-filled by people travelling to Minehead with their luggage and families. This placed a lot of pressure on the regular service and commuters at peak times.

·       There need to be more input at the development stage of new housing estates, to ensure that bus routes and public transport options were built into the early plans and could be provided as part of S106 and Community Infrastructure Levies.

·       It was suggested that during peak times a quicker direct service bus could be provided for those commuters who wanted to travel straight to work, rather than take the longer journey through the villages. There was a mismatch at present, because some buses were over full at peak times, whilst others were practically empty.

·       Those Councillors who are now part of the unitary council, were asked to support the recommendations and do their best to see they were implemented.

·       Concern was expressed about what happens to the subsidised fares after the 31 March. Would the trial be extended?


Cllr Lisgo proposed that the report was passed to the Executive before Somerset West and Taunton Council ceased to exist, so that the Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Planning and Transportation – Cllr Mike Rigby could take it forward to the new Somerset Council for their appropriate consideration. This recommendation was seconded by Cllr Janet Lloyd, and unanimously supported by the Committee.


Cllr Whetlor agreed to add a recommendation to the report, in respect of an improved service between Minehead/West Somerset and Bridgwater, in recognition of the significant number of educational and employment opportunities that are there.





Supporting documents: