2016/02/15 Extraordinary Meeting

15th February 2016
11181 Un-confirmed Minutes of the Extraordinary Meeting of the Silverdale Parish Council held in the Silverdale Institute on Monday, 15th February 2016.
11182 Present: Chairman – T.G. (Terry) Bond, Councillors J. (John) Bennett, A.J. (Tony) Houghton, S.L. (Shirley) Mason, K. (Keith) Palmer, D. (David) Sandiford and P.N. (Paul) Williams, the Clerk – L.D. (Denise) Challenor, the Deputy Clerk – S.D. (Sue) Hayward, City Councillor N. (Nigel) Goodrich and twenty six members of the public.
11183 Apologies for Absence: Councillor N. (Nigel) Ribbons.
11184 Receipt of Declarations of Members’ Interests Relating to any Items Appearing on the Agenda
11185 Matters Raised by Members of the Public for Future Consideration
Before members of the public were invited to speak the Chairman gave some information on the results of the 126 surveys about the bus service that have been completed so far – 113 have responded to say that they use the Silverdale Shuttle service; most of the journeys using the Shuttle are to and from the station. He also advised that this Council made representations to the Leader of Lancashire County Council (Lancs. CC) and to David Morris MP requesting a delay in the implementation of cuts in bus subsidies to allow time for an alternative scheme to be put in place.
Councillor Bennett reported on the current situation regarding the bus services. He reported that Lancs. CC will cease their current system of subsidising bus services with effect from 2nd April; they have allocated a £2m fund to which rural communities and disadvantaged groups can apply for help with the cost of running their own services. Lancs. CC had said that, should they withdraw subsidy, they would consider providing a minibus to parish councils on a case by case basis – Silverdale Parish Council registered an interest, but heard nothing more and have had no response to repeated requests for figures etc. The Traffic Commissioner has been given the requisite 56 days’ notice of the revised bus timetables by the bus service operators.
Members of the public asked questions and made the following points in connection with the bus service to Silverdale:
1. where can copies of the bus survey be found?
The Chairman advised that copies are available at the newsagents and in the library;
2. did the Parish Council intend holding a public meeting about this issue?
The Chairman responded that this was still the intention when the council is in in receipt of the information requested of Lancs. CC.;
3. Lancs. CC have not distributed any of their budget consultation surveys to Silverdale, although a few had been picked up elsewhere and left at the library;
4. the pedestrian route from the centre of the village to Silverdale station is unsafe as it involves walking along unlit roads without pavements. It was noted that many schoolchildren use the train to travel to school;
5. if there is no bus service to and from the station there is likely to be an impact on tourism due to the distance of the village centre from the station;
6. a question was asked about the cost of running a minibus service.
The Chairman and Councillor Bennett responded that the figures involved in running a bus service are unclear, but it seems that the Silverdale Shuttle runs at a loss of around £70,000 and the 51 route runs at a loss of possibly £30 – £40,000. It was noted that the service providers are reimbursed a percentage of the cost of the adult fare where passengers travel with a bus pass.
7. does Lancs. CC have a responsibility to transport children to and from schools where the school is not within walking distance?
Councillor Bennett advised that this is so, but if special buses are provided they are not available for the general public to use;
8. one resident pointed out that if school children rely on a special bus service they will not be able to stay on at school for after school activities then travel home using public transport;
9. residents rely on the bus service for a number of journeys – for doctor’s appointments, shopping, school, business and leisure. It was considered that a village reliant on cars is not desirable and it was believed that a solution (even if it is a compromise) is possible;
10. one villager said that she is dependant on the Shuttle service to travel to the village centre 2-3 times a week;
11. one felt that residents should not pay extra for a bus service as they are already paying Council Tax and pointed out the need for a rural bus service: to avoid individuals/ communities becoming isolated; give young people access to education; help disadvantaged people and those in low paid jobs. If low cost housing schemes are to be developed in rural areas a public transport system needs to be in place. She believed that Lancs. CC should refer to their own policies which address these very issues;
12. there may be an impact on the train service if people are unable to access the station by bus and stop using the train;
13. having access to a bus service helps the population of the village to be more diverse than it might otherwise be;
14. it was felt that it is discriminatory to remove subsidies from rural areas;
15. the bus service is an asset to the village;
16. a suggestion was made that, if an alternative service is introduced, books of bus tickets be made available for sale to encourage residents to use the service more often.
The Chairman explained that this Council is aware of the issues that have been raised, including the impact on the station and the need to have public transport links with other areas; this Council’s position is to fight the withdrawal of the bus services.
11186 Report from City Councillor Nigel Goodrich
Councillor Goodrich noted that there are a lot of issues, the withdrawal of subsidies does seem discriminatory and a lot of residents in rural areas are objecting.
11187 Report from County Councillor Alycia James
It was noted that Councillor James had been invited especially to this meeting, but had made no contact to say she would, or would not, attend. No report was available.
11188 Reports on any Meetings Attended by Members or the Clerk
11189 Bus Service
Councillor Bennett reported on the Lancaster District Bus Users Group (LDBUG) which he has joined – it is a voluntary group which exists to further the interests of bus passengers. LDBUG have sent Councillor Bennett a draft timetable for a possible Silverdale – Carnforth service based around the 51 and Silverdale Shuttle routes, he has submitted some revisions which LDBUG will look at. A draft timetable was circulated to Members. Councillor Bennett has spoken with Traveller’s Choice who have tendered for the 2016/17 school contract – if successful with the tender they may be able to add some of the existing service covered by the Silverdale Shuttle in addition to the school service. The cost of an alternative bus service could be shared with other parish councils and the subsidy for school bus provision. Councillor Bennett’s understanding is that the bus used to provide the service would be the current (smaller) Silverdale Shuttle bus.
A cross party Bus Working Group lead by Councillor Paul Hayhurst has been set up by Lancs. CC – this group will administer the £2m fund (referred to in 11185 above). Councillor Bennett has contacted Councillor Hayhurst – there is no procedure in place for applying to the fund for subsidies as yet, but one will be available in the next few days. Lancs. CC have set aside a £3m fund for transitional arrangements.
Members noted that it is feasible that an alternative bus service could start from 3rd April and believed that the Traffic Commissioner would approve a new service in less than 56 days (the rules being strictly applied when services are withdrawn, but not when services are added).
RESOLVED to pursue the draft timetable circulated by Councillor Bennett if possible, if not, it was noted that a timetable providing a service over a two-hour period in the morning and two hours at tea time be pursued. It was noted that, if a new timetable is introduced, it should be well publicised.
The Chairman read out David Morris MP’s letter (referred to above) and noted his suggestion to involve County Councillor Alycia James; RESOLVED to let Mr Morris know if Councillor James makes contact.
11190 Precept
RESOLVED not to increase the precept request and to press for subsidising all of the proposed bus service from the £3m transitional fund.
11191 Date of Next Meeting
It was noted that the date of the next meeting is Monday, 7th March 2016. Items for the agenda to reach the Clerk before Friday, 20th February and copies of reports to reach the Clerk before Monday, 29th February.

Sue Hayward
Deputy Clerk to the Council