Growing anger over cuts to Ottery bus services

An online petition has been launched on Change.org and the town council is considering taking up the matter with Stagecoach. 

Philippa Davies www.sidmouthherald.co.uk

From Sunday, July 31, a new 44 service will be covering Exeter – Cranbrook – Ottery St Mary – Honiton – Axminster.  There will be a two-hourly service from Axminster and a combination of one to two services in the hour from Honiton.   

There is particular concern that the last bus from Exeter to Ottery will be at 18.40 and there will no longer be a service from Ottery to Honiton at 21.51. 

An online petition has been launched by a local resident who says: “The new timetables will be a nightmare for anyone wishing to go out to Exeter for an evening or for those that need to use the buses to get home from work.” 

Ottery’s mayor, Cllr Vicky Johns, said: “As a Councillor and resident of Ottery I am dismayed that Stagecoach have reduced their service to our town and the outlying villages.  

“We have residents who rely on the public transport to get them to their work places and home again, to get them to their places of education and home again and to generally get them around safely.  

“As a country we have declared a climate emergency and whereas most areas are increasing their public transport ours is decreasing, where does this make sense? I would hope that Stagecoach would look again at their new timetable and take into account what their customers actually require.” 

Ottery Town Council will be discussing the issue at their next meeting on Monday, August 1. 

The MP for East Devon Simon Jupp said he is seeking a meeting with Stagecoach over the cuts. He said: “The reduction of bus services in Ottery St Mary and East Devon comes as a bitter blow. We should be encouraging people back on to public transport, yet have a council who have doubled the price of parking across our district. It’s time for some joined-up thinking and that is why I am sitting down with Stagecoach bosses to express local feedback about where the timetable cuts go too far.”

The Herald reported on the reduced bus service earlier this month, when the county councillor for the Otter Valley, Jess Bailey, raised her concerns. She is calling for Devon County Council to press Stagecoach to reinstate the existing service. 

Stagecoach says the changes are aimed at ‘providing a sustainable bus network now so that we can grow services over the long term’. 

The company says it needs to concentrate resources on the services where demand is greatest, to make sure vital journeys and connections are maintained, and that it will work with national and local government to attract more people to use its bus services.