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Matter which the Chairman has decided is urgent by reason of the need to ensure service provision from 1st April, 2012

 

Agenda Item No.

 

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 28TH MARCH, 2012

 

REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (ECONOMY AND ENVIRONMENT): 27TH MARCH, 2012

 

 

"           REVIEW OF SUPPORTED LOCAL BUS SERVICES 2011 - AWARD OF SUPPORTED LOCAL BUS CONTRACTS AND LOCAL TRANSPORT SERVICES GRANT 2012/2013 - CALL-IN -

 

Cabinet received a report on 29th February 2012 which:

 

-                      advised on the current position in respect of the Supported Bus Service Review and which sought approval for the award of tendered service Contract Agreements and continued service provision

-                      informed of the Local Transport Services Grant made available from the Welsh Government (WG) for 2012/13 and the implications for continued service provision following a reduced grant compared to recent years.

 

and subsequently made the following resolutions

 

(1)       T H A T the proposed award of Contract Agreements for supported local bus services as detailed above be approved.

 

(2)       T H A T the sum of £328,139 Local Transport Services Grant for 2012/13 be accepted and that the implications for continued service provision be noted.

 

(3)       T H A T a fundamental inter modal review be carried out and reported to Cabinet in six months time.

 

The Scrutiny Committee was requested to consider four call-ins received in respect of the above Councillors C.P.J. Elmore, G. John, N. Moore and M.R. Wilson.  Councillor Wilson's call-in referred to the concern about no Sunday services for the 88, 89A and 89B, whether an examination of sponsorship for route 87 with organisations that had a presence in Cardiff Bay could be examined and that the withdrawal of bus route P1 would be a significant loss to the tourism of Penarth and whether commercial support could be considered.  Councillor Wilson also referred to the limited time given for consultation on the matter.

 

The Head of Planning and Transportation advised that the withdrawal of the Sunday service on route 88 and 89A and B had been considered due to lower passenger numbers on Sundays compared to Monday to Saturdays which had resulted in a saving of £30,000 per annum.  With regard to the proposed evening 87 service, the service did not currently operate, it had been a proposed suggestion that the service be considered to be provided but this had not materialised, due to the reduction in Local Transport Services Grant from Welsh Government.  If this service was to be agreed an additional provisional cost of £40,000 per annum would be required.

 

With regard to sponsorship no organisations had been approached but it was suggested that the summer service P1 may be further considered by Penarth Town Council in partnership with the Council although the service duplicated existing services but was seen to be a tourism merit for Penarth.  The provision was reported to cost £149 per day. The Head of Service also advised a full consultation on the report had been undertaken and some responses had been received.  He further reiterated the detail as contained within the report that the proposals to withdraw certain Sunday services and to withdraw the direct service from Llantwit Major to Bridgend was a consequence of the reduction in the local transport services grant of 27% with the original date for this to be effective from as 1st April 2012.  However, a copy of a letter received from the Minister dated 16th March advised that the Minister was reinstating existing funding for a period of up to three months to assist with transitional arrangements.  The Head of Service advised that clarification was to be sought on the content of this letter, in terms of how this funding would be administered.

 

Councillor Elmore's call-in referred to the cut in services for residents within the Bendricks and Hayes Road which he stated was an isolated community in Barry and residents without their own transport would be totally cut off.  He further advised that he had received complaints from concerned residents and  requested that the decision be reviewed with a view to reinstating the service.  The report stated that the cost of reinstating the service would be £11,000 per annum and it was further highlighted that a number of years previously a taxi bus had been provided to the Bendricks on a Sunday on request, it had been subsidised by the Council but not been well used. 

 

During consideration of the report Councillor Elmore and other Members referred to the utilisation of Section 106 monies but were advised by the Head of Service that a protocol existed for Section 106 monies in respect of options for spends but that the money could only be realised when houses were developed.  This was in specific response to Councillor Elmore’s comments that planning permission had been granted at the Bendricks with Sustainable Transport money being due.  As these permissions had not been implemented, the Head of Service explained that the S106 money was not as yet available.

 

In Councillor John’s call in he referred to the lack of public transport in general and in particular to the Llantwit Major, to Cardiff and Bridgend service in relation to the proposed property developments that were anticipated.  He also queried whether the Rhoose to Cardiff Airport service was well used stating that he had received reports of limited usage.

 

Attached to the report was a list of all supported bus services in the Vale of Glamorgan including school services and the direct bus service 146 Llantwit Major to Bridgend was proposed for withdrawal with an hourly service 145 being extended in Llantwit to Pentre Cwrt including the operation via Bedford Rise.  The report highlighted that to retain the 146 service would cost £27,000, the evening service 95 under the proposals had two journeys from Llantwit Major to Cardiff and one journey from Cardiff to Llantwit Major withdrawn.  Again, to reinstate these would be at a cost of £26,316 per annum.  Officers advised that on figures that had been received there were 4,000 customers for the service per month and as a result of the statistics it was suggested that the service remain, as the level of use was considered to be high.

 

Councillor N. Moore’s call in referred to the massive gap in the routes that were available for the most deprived areas in Cadoc and that the area had a high proportion of elderly residents.  The Cabinet report also suggested that the X46 would be cancelled from 12th April whereas he had been aware it had been cancelled from 12th March.  He also referred to the re-routing of the 88 to travel along Vere Street and Little Moor's Hill and that the service did not replace the X46 as it did not travel to Cardiff but Penarth and would not take effect until sometime in April when the new contract took place.  As a result the only way that some residents would have of getting to Cardiff would be via the 88 to Penarth and to change there and there a direct bus to Cardiff was on a Sunday using the X5.

 

Although aware that the X45 and X46 were not subsided transport routes and had presumably been lost to the cut in the BSOG he considered the route to be one that should be reconsidered as a subsidised route to replace the lost service in view of the isolation issues for that part of Barry.

 

The Officer advised that the X46 service had been withdrawn from 12th March 2012, the service was operated commercially by Cartel and was, in part, a casualty of a reduction in the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) paid to operators.  He stated that it would be difficult to justify the replacement of the service X46 as a subsidised route as much of the route is competing with other commercial services operated by Cardiff Bus and the supported service 88 would cater for Vere Street and Little Moors Hill.  However, he suggested that the Cartel may consider extending service 88 to Cardiff on a commercial basis but that would be a company decision and would need the introduction of an additional vehicle into the cycle.  The cost implications to reinstate the Sunday services 88, 89 and 146 would cost £57,000 per annum and the provision of a summer service P1 on the same days and timetable as those operated in 2011 would cost £8642 running from May Day Bank Holiday weekend to the first weekend in September.  The report however did suggest that Penarth Town Council may wish to consider this further in partnership with the Council in due course.

 

The Officer further advised that the only other service adversely effected by the proposals was the reduced frequency of the evening service 95 Llantwit Major to Cardiff via Barry and this would cost £26,316 to reinstate per annum.  Officers were also currently seeking clarification from Carl Sargent, Minister for Local Government and Communities on the terms of the offer as detailed in his letter attached to the report of 16th March, 2012 . 

 

The Head of Service concurred with the Members in relation to the reduction of funding and advised that the Cabinet Member for Planning and Transportation had previously written to the Minister expressing such concerns.  A meeting had taken place on 20th February with Members, Chief Officers and the regional transport consortia and subsequently the letter of 16th March had been received.

 

Following considerable discussion Councillor Wilson recommended that the services be maintained for 2012 but that an in-depth review of bus services to include an equality impact assessment especially for services run on a Sunday be undertaken and that sponsorship of services such as the P1 and 87 be investigated. 

 

It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED

 

(1)       T H A T existing services be maintained for 2012.

 

(2)       T H A T a review be undertaken to include an equality impact assessment in particular for services on a Sunday.

 

(3)       T H A T alternative funding sources be investigated for such services e.g. sponsorship, particularly for the P1 and 87 services.

 

(4)       T H A T further clarification be sought from the Minister in respect of his letter dated 16th March, 2012 in relation to the extension of funding referred to therein and that clarification also be sought in respect of the Bus Service Operators Grant.

 

(5)       T H A T the above recommendations be referred to Cabinet.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In order that there is no cut in services.

 

(2)       That a full review be undertaken of the bus services in order to make informed decisions.

 

(3)       In order that further funding opportunities can be pursued.

 

(4)       To seek clarification from the Minister.

 

(5)       For decision.

 

Attached as Appendix - Report to Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment): 28th March, 2012.

 

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