Transport service to come to Hartley WintneyBy Stephen Lloyd
February 04, 2013
HARTLEY Wintney residents are to get their own community transport service.
The parish council has won a contract to operate the new service, which will be kick-started by money from Barratt Homes as part of a deal for its St Mary’s Park development in Dilly Lane.
Starting in May, the service will provide Monday to Friday peak-time commuter trips to Winchfield Railway Station, twice weekly services to the Meadows Shopping Centre in Camberley and to Basingstoke Hospital, a weekly trip to Basingstoke College of Technology, a Saturday service to the Meadows and a minibus group hire service for local voluntary and community groups.
The project was awarded a five-year contract worth £246,000 by Hampshire County Council last week, the culmination of more than two years’ hard work and negotiations by Hartley Wintney Parish Council.
In October 2010, the parish council took the unusual step of asking Hampshire to give it the developer contributions allocated for public transport in the area.
Leah Coney, executive clerk at Hartley Wintney Parish Council, said: “In providing a locally owned and operated service, we can be demand responsive.
“This is a sustainable model because it is created from and directed by local need. The service provision is adaptable in ways just not possible on commercial bus routes.”
Fares will be charged in order to supplement the contract award money in the short term and then to sustain the service in the longer term.
Parish council chairman Dorothy Harvey said: “The loss of the main bus service through the village in October 2011 demonstrated the fragility of services reliant upon huge subsidies which cannot be maintained in the current economic climate. This contract means that we can bridge the gap and provide a local, cost effective means of travel for residents.”
Chris Cornwell, of the Hartley Wintney and District Over 55s Forum, said the service would be welcomed by members, many of whom found it difficult to shop in Camberley with the restricted service.
“We will also be looking to hire the bus for social events outside the village,” he added.
Hart district councillor Sara Kinnell said it was ‘fantastic news’. She added: “Well done to all involved. Hartley Wintney really is very lucky to have such a proactive, forward-thinking council.”
Councillor Mel Kendal, Hampshire County Council’s deputy leader and executive member for transport, said: “Against a background of reduced government subsidies for bus journeys this shows we are finding new ways to promote community transport, keep Hampshire moving and support our communities by promoting well-being and economic prosperity.
“Although we are still facing enormous budget pressures, schemes such as this enable us to provide essential services that are so important for Hampshire’s residents, particularly in rural areas.”