This week Barton Town Council published minutes of it's January 2nd meeting, which contained the following disappointing and concerning item under the heading "correspondence received since issue of the agenda":
"Information from North Lincolnshire Council Public Transport about making savings on the 450 bus service by making changes to the 450 service and looking to incorporating the 260 to help serve some of the villages. The 450 would operate from Barrow to Barton and Brigg via the Low Villages. The 260 at present operates 4 days to Goxhill and New Holland and 1 day to East Halton. They are looking at changing this to 3 days operating to Goxhill and New Holland and 2 days serving Thornton Curtis, Wootton and Ulceby and also East Halton and South Killingholme. A proposed timetable has been forwarded. Any suggestions are welcomed by early in the New Year. "
To expand on and slightly correct the current arrangements stated above, service 260 'The Villager' links the villages of Goxhill, New Holland and Barrow with Barton, as well as East Halton on a Thursday only; the Thursday timetable also includes a service from Victoria House in Barton to the town's Tesco supermarket. Monday to Friday the service is operated by Stagecoach, operating off peak approximately every 60-90 minutes using one vehicle, and is interworked with a schools service from the Caistor Road Estate in Barton to St Peter's Primary School. On Saturday's a single 'timetabled' journey in each direction is provided between Goxhill and Barton by the CallConnect bus.
Service 450 operates between Immingham County Hotel, South Killingholme, Ulceby, Wootton, Thornton Curtis, Barrow, Barton, South Ferriby, Horkstow, Saxby, Bonby, Worlaby, Elsham, Wrawby and Brigg. The route is operated by Stagecoach with four journeys in each direction, albeit on schooldays one service from Brigg terminates at Barton and another is diverted after Barrow to Goxhill. The service requires two vehicles, and I think is interworked with the 552 South Killingholme to Barton Baysgarth School schools service. The 450 itself provides a schools service to Brigg for out of catchment area students.
The exact proposed new timetable has not been included in the Barton Town Council minutes, but would clearly involve cutbacks overall, with the possible exception of East Halton and North Killingholme (located between East Halton and South Killingholme and currently only served by the 552 and CallConnect). It would seem no community will be left unserved however. I presume the intention would be to reduce from a requirement for three vehicles on weekdays to two, at least in school holidays. Unless operated as circular, serving Wootton/Ulceby on one hand, and East Halton on the other, would not be possible without a trip via some very minor roads, but serving all four communities could be done by operating between Barrow and South Killingholme via Wootton/Ulceby in one direction and East Halton in the other.
It's not clear what is proposed for Saturdays. The minutes refer to serving some communities three days a week and others two, implying five day a week services, yet every village east of Barton apart from East Halton and North Killingholme currently has a Saturday bus service. It maybe that the Saturday 260 service isn't being considered as it's operated as part of the CallConnect contract, but that doesn't explain if the plan is to replace/continue the Saturday 450, or not.
In response, Barton Town Council resolved "that a letter be sent to North Lincolnshire Council with the town council’s concerns that the local bus services are to be reduced. As the town council currently support the town bus and it was noted that better information needs to be sought regarding the Call Connect service, the Clerk to invite the Public Transport Development Officer to a forthcoming meeting of the town council to further explain the service".
It is good to see Barton Town Council agree to respond with their concerns to North Lincolnshire Council. Barton Town Council currently contribute towards the 254 Barton Town Service and also fund a schools service within the town from the Caistor Road Estate to Castledyke Primary School. The remainder of the funding for the 254 comes from North Lincolnshire Council but there is no indication that is under threat. Older Barton Town Council minutes indicate that changes may be made to the 254 when Barton Library and Local Link relocates from the town centre to the Baysgarth Leisure Centre later this year.
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