NOTE TO PARISH COUNCILS
PROPOSED NEW BUS SERVICEFOR GREAT MASSINGHAM AND OTHER VILLAGES
Tothe Parish Councils of:
- Great Massingham
- Little Massingham
- Raynham Park
- South Wootton
Great Massingham Bus Action Group has been in contact with Norfolk Green and Norfolk County Council since January 2013, with a view to restoring a scheduled Norfolk Green bus service through the Massinghams. This was based on a massive, formal, village-wide petition calling for restoration of the service. After discussions in 2013, Norfolk Green proposed a timetable to serve Massingham and a group of other villages as follows:
Route A: 4/5 buses per day
Raynham Park, Harpley, Great Massingham, Flitcham, Hillington, South Wootton, College of West Anglia, King’s Lynn Bus Station.
Route B: 2 buses per day
Docking, Monks Close, National Construction College (NCC), Great Bircham, Anmer, Flitcham, Hillington, South Wootton, King’s Lynn Bus Station.
This proposal was put to Norfolk County Council last year but did not go forward because the Councillor panel which considered it, whilst not rejecting the proposal, made it part of a wider study of services for older people in rural communities across the County.
Since then, the governance system on the County Council has been completely changed, offering a new opportunity to take the proposal further. Furthermore, whilst Norfolk Green as such has been taken over by Stagecoach, the Norfolk Green operation remains under that name and has Stagecoach's blessing to participate in restarting the process to introduce the new service. Additionally, the County Council senior officer concerned, as well as the North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham, have pledged their support to the process.
Bus Action Group Meetings
Following a meeting on 20th June 2014 initiated by the Action Group community members -attended by the new management of Norfolk Green, the Norfolk County Council senior officer and division member - and further meetings held on 18 July 2014 and 19 September 2014, it was agreed to evaluate the feasibility of the proposal by holding a six month pilot scheme starting in April 2015based on the draft routes A & B produced by Norfolk Green in 2013, as shown above.
Clearly, support for the proposal from the Parish Councils of the villages on the routes shown above and the key institutions (notably the College of West Anglia and the National Construction College at Bircham Newton) which stand to benefit from the proposed new Norfolk Green route) is of great importance. The critical success factor will be the level of ridership, the main driver of the financial viability of any new service.
If we are successful, this scheme could be a highly important initiative which could be expanded within Norfolk, helping to sustain development, support growth and significantly reduce all aspects of rural isolation. It is consonant with current Government policy for supporting people, particularly those older and vulnerable members of remote rural communities, as well as young people and students without their own means of transport.
We emphasise that the new service is in addition to, not instead of, existing services, including bespoke community transport schemes. The cost of the six month pilot scheme, estimated to be £47k for a Monday to Saturday service, will hopefully be borne predominantly by institutional participants, but it would help if Parishes could show willing by pledging a small, token contribution, in the form of proportionately matched funding. A contribution of £1 or £2 per inhabitant on the electoral roll of each of villages served by the new route would be very helpful. Other sources of finance will be sought, in particular a share of 106 condition funding provided by developers for infrastructure in support of housing developments likely to benefit from the new service (eg at West Raynham & Monks Close). A comprehensive local advertising campaign will be organised to encourage use of the bus service. Such a scheme was launched in Great Massingham and has resulted in substantially increased use of public transport.
Request to Parish Councils
We would be grateful if, at your next Parish Council meeting, you could discuss the above proposal for a trial and let us know whether or not you would, in principle, support the introduction of a scheduled Norfolk Green bus service through your village in this way. Your initial view of the request for a small, token contribution of matched funding for the trial would also be appreciated.
If required, the Great Massingham Bus Action Group will be happy to advise on how to generate ridership based upon their successful experience.
County, Borough and District Member addressees
This communication is copied to you with the request that you offer your support in respect of those villages and communities in your wards/division which will be served by the proposed service. It would be helpful if Borough and District Councillors could add support for 106 agreement finance to be sought where applicable.
Yvonne Bridger - Chair of the Great Massingham Bus Action Group
John Bridger - Secretary to the Great Massingham Bus Action Group
John Dobson – County Councillor
Member of Parliament
Norfolk County Council
Great Massingham Bus Action Group
Yvonne Bridger – Chair
John Bridger – Secretary
29th October 2014