Shropshire Council is under enormous financial pressure. Central government funding disadvantages a large rural county like Shropshire, where the population is relatively low. This also means that council tax receipts are relatively low. And because Shropshire is a largely rural county, the cost of delivering services to each household is relatively high. The problem, outside of the larger towns of Shrewsbury, Oswestry, Bridgnorth, Whitchurch, Ludlow and Market Drayton, is “sparsity”.
This problem also means that some services, which might at first glance be expected to pay for themselves, in fact have to be subsidised by Shropshire Council. One of these services is public transport. Shropshire Council has launched a six-week consultation into proposed reductions to its public transport budget, aimed at a budget reduction of £405,000 in the new financial year 2019/20. It is also targeting Shrewsbury Park & Ride service. I’ve written about the 436 Bridgnorth-Much Wenlock-Shrewsbury service already, but I’d overlooked the 8 service, because my eye was drawn to the 18, where there are no changes proposed.
If the proposed reductions are implemented it would see a reduction in the number and frequency of bus services subsidised by the Council. For Benthall and Broseley Wood residents this affects the 8 Bridgnorth-Broseley-Telford (and return) service. Shropshire Council says “Removal of evening journeys (18:10 from Telford, 19:15 from Bridgnorth & 20:00 from Telford).” I have the following concerns; local residents may have different ones.
- For non-car users, the 8 is the only practical means, other than private hire cars, of reaching the larger shopping centres of Bridgnorth and Telford and, by changing to the 19 at Dale End Park, Shrewsbury.
- For many, the proposed timetable will be an unworkable option for work or school. The last bus proposed from Telford will be 17:10. Many will not have finished work or college by that time, and there’s still the time it takes to get from work/college to the Town Centre bus station. The last bus proposed to leave Bridgnorth will be the 18:15 from Low Town, with a stop at Sainsbury’s at 18:20. This probably isn’t as difficult as the Telford time, but many will struggle to get to the bus stop in time if they don’t clock off at 17:30. And it seems to me that if you don’t leave Shrewsbury by 16:00, you won’t catch your connection to Broseley. The current departure time options of leaving Shrewsbury at 16:45, 16:50, 17:55, 18:39 are all lost under the proposals if I’ve interpreted the timetables correctly.
- The changes may cause problems for folk who have had afternoon appointments at Bridgnorth, Royal Shrewsbury or the Princess Royal hospitals.
- Of course, we shouldn’t just consider Benthall, Barrow and Broseley Wood residents who find the proposed service inconvenient when visiting the larger towns. What of the people who would like to visit Broseley, maybe taking a walk across the fields, visiting Benthall Hall and having a cuppa? Removing some of our public transport links will only make it harder for shops and businesses in Broseley to succeed.
- In addition to the social impact of these changes, I believe there will also be a negative financial impact in the medium to long term. Fewer buses will mean more car use, resulting in more damage to roads, leading to further pressure on Shropshire Council’s highways maintenance budget.
- Shropshire Council’s Local Plan Review proposes that in excess of another 100 houses will be built in Broseley by 2036. This will put further pressure on commuter routes if the bus service isn’t adequate to provide a convenient service.
If you share my concerns – or if you think that the proposals are justified – please email your comments on this consultation to: email@example.com. Alternatively, send a letter to:
Public Transport Consultation
Passenger Transport Services
The closing date for the consultation is 6th May.