Minutes of NHBUG Meeting – 25 January 2018

This Meeting was held at The Settlement, Letchworth. Meeting started at 1:30pm, chaired by Marilyn Kirkland.
12 members attended. Also attending were: Councillors Steve Jarvis. Paul Marment
Apologies received from: Councillors Fiona Hill, Derrick Ashley, Simon Bloxham, Ian Mantle.

Matters Arising from last minutes
The minutes of the last meeting were accepted unanimously.
The infrastructure issues raised have been fixed although the light at the bus stop in Penn Way seems to have failed again.
The ideas about the 90/91 route at the previous meetings were carried forward as a separate agenda item later this meeting to finally come to a conclusion on this issue.

Bus services
There was very positive comment about the improved service on the 53 route after some problems towards the end of last year. It was suggested NHBUG get in touch with the Council and Operator to give this positive feedback.

Cutbacks to services elsewhere.
Peter Ellingworth gave details of drastic cuts proposed in the counties of Norfolk and Kent. Particularly disappointing in the latter case where the Council had previously been very supportive and was held as an example of good practice.
However the good news is that both counties largely withdrew the proposals in the face of big protests, particularly from users in rural areas who would be left isolated. This shows that at least in these counties public opinion is taken into account.

90/91 service.

The lack of children on the earlier service (noted at the last meeting) was felt to be due to a change in school bus arrangements that were already uncertain and that numbers could well resume.
The main discussion was on the proposal to secure funding on a trial basis to extend the afternoon service, on Saturdays only, to Royston;  thus providing a ‘shopping service’ for people in Royston to come to Letchworth.
It was emphasized that we needed to conclude this issue, as we have feedback that some people are being put off from coming to our meetings, as this service is all we seem to talk about!

The proposal was discussed.  Doubts were expressed as to how many people would use the service, when there are frequent trains all day between Royston and Letchworth, with lifts and step free access, a journey time of 12 minutes rather than nearly an hour on the bus, a return fare for fare-payers that is cheaper than the bus, and is just over £2 return for concession holders.
It was felt however that some people had previously used the service until the timetable was changed and it might be worth seeing if they return to use the Saturday service.
Steve Jarvis said that funding for a six month trial could be made available.
However on further discussion, no one present from Ashwell saw any merit in the extra journey into Royston and no one was able to provide evidence that sufficient demand from Royston existed, as the previous users would probably not want a service on Saturday and as discussed previously no other day had any spare resource. A further problem was that the idea of suggesting to concession holders to voluntarily pay the fare received strong opposition and was dropped as a suggestion. This would make it even less likely any proposed new service would be viable.
It was decided to do a final check with Fiona Hill (Royston Councillor) to see if she felt there was sufficient demand from Royston and that otherwise the proposal would be rejected as non-viable.

Next Meeting.
Tuesday 27th March 2018 at 2:00pm at The BALDOCK COMMUNITY CENTRE, Simpson Drive, SG7 6DH.       

                                           David Wakelin – Secretary: North Herts BUG