Winchester and Alresford MP Steve Brine chaired a working meeting today with key figures from the town, Stagecoach and Hampshire County Council to discuss the future of bus services into and out of New/Old Alresford.
A wide range of proposed changes have been put forward by Stagecoach in an attempt to address its current loss-making services to the town and surrounding villages.
The meeting, which took place on the morning of Monday 19th September 2011 in Old Alresford, gave local stakeholders an opportunity to openly air their thoughts on the proposed re-routing of the 64, x64 and 67 services. Those attending were; Steve Brine MP, Cllr Jackie Porter (HCC), Cllr Ernie Jeffs & Cllr Simon Cook (WCC), Cllr Roy Gentry (NATC), Cllr Bernard Tucker (Old Alresford Parish Council), Neil Beswick (HCC), Pam Stevens (Alresford Town Trust Minibus) plus Andrew Dyer (MD) and Richard Tyldsley (Win Bus Station) from Stagecoach.
Andrew Dyer, from Stagecoach, was able to share the problems faced from their end, and in particular the problems caused by rising fuel prices and changes to various Government subsidies provided to run rural services.
Speaking after the meeting, Steve Brine said; "We all agree that buses are a good thing, and particularly vital for areas such as Old Alresford. That is not the issue here, and we can all I am sure appreciate the problems Stagecoach are facing, which Andrew Dyer so eloquently spelt out.
"For me this was a very useful first meeting, and everyone who attended came prepared to discuss what local community solutions there can possibly be to what are very local community problems. We managed to go through, in some detail, the effective merger of the x64 and 67 from the end of October and the improved service some parts of New Alresford will see as a result. Stagecoach will publish their renewed and revised timetables shortly I understand.
"We also discussed in great detail the service for Old Alresford when the 64 stops and this involved action points for Stagecoach who have gone away to look at further revisions to the 67 in this regard. Hampshire County Council have been tasked by the meeting with looking again at the Cango Service. I think it is fair to say there was general agreement that in its current form Cango is certainly not the answer but given the commercial challenges we obviously face in providing a service to Old Alresford it was felt we cannot simply turn our backs on the Cango. So Neil Beswick from HCC has been tasked with examining its service and the obvious lack of confidence residents have in it, including the current poor marketing carried out."
Mr Brine added that there was not any silver bullet produced at the meeting which solves these problems at a stroke but he said; "There is good news around the effective merger of the 67 and x64 services and positive action points were taken away by Stagecoach and HCC with regards the Old Alresford end of things. I am glad we were able to get those people round one table to look at this and consider some evidence based solutions."
Steve, who is working cross-party with city councillors and County Councillor Jackie Porter on this issue, said the group would report back further in due course.
What's your view?
Do you use the bus service in New/Old Alresford? What are your experiences and what would you like to see happen next? Email Steve Brine at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01962 791110.