Notes of the meeting of the Newton Abbot Local Transport Forum held on Wednesday 18th April 2012

NOTES OF THE EIGHTEENTH MEETING OF THE NEWTON ABBOT LOCAL TRANSPORT FORUM HELD IN THE COUNCIL CHAMBER, TOWN HALL, 9 DEVON SQUARE, NEWTON ABBOT ON WEDNESDAY 18TH APRIL 2012 AT 7.00 p.m.

Present:
 
Chairman: Councillor Mrs Daphne Watts (Newton Abbot Town Council) Presiding
 
Representing: 
 
Newton Abbot Town Council:
Councillors:
Mrs Anne Fry – Bradley
J A Gadie – Milber
M Hocking – Bradley
D Howe – College
C N Parker – Milber
K Purchase – Bushell
Ms L Roberts – Bradley
M Ryan – Buckland
Mrs M Voaden – Bushell
 
Town Clerk P A Rowe
 
Devon County Council: Mr Derek Fishpool
 
Bus Companies:
Stagecoach Mr Elliot Mizen
Country Bus Mr Neil Romig 
Dartline None
 
Rail Company First Great Western Apology
 
Community Transport Mrs Kay Yendall
 
Newton Abbot & District Cycle Group Apology
 
Local Residents:
Mr Eric Collar
Mr Denis Tyler
 
 
1. WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS 
 
The Chairman welcomed members to the eighteenth meeting of the Newton Abbot Local Transport Forum. 
 
2. APOLOGIES
 
Apologies for absence were received on behalf of Councillor Mrs L Cooke (Buckland Ward), Mr Graham Wickham (Newton Abbot & District Cycle Group) and Mr Neil Craig (Station Manager Newton Abbot).
 
3. NOTES OF LAST MEETING
 
The notes of the 17th Meeting of the Forum held on 27th October 2011 were received and noted.
 
4. CONNECT 2 COMMUNITY LIAISON GROUP
 
In receiving the minutes of the meeting of the Connect 2 Community Liaison Group held on 25th January 2012 the Chairman invited Councillor Colin Parker to report on the turf cutting ceremony for the new cycle and footpath/bridge being constructed alongside Newton Abbot Racecourse. Councillor Parker explained that the ceremony was held on Monday 16th April with the planned completion date being in December 2012. No mention was made at the event regarding the adopted name for the new bridge, although the Town Council had proposed Town Quay Bridge’. He also referred to the Town Council’s plans to provide a refreshment kiosk at the Quay following completion of the bridge, together with refurbishment of the surface of the Quay, new lighting and tables/chairs. Reference was made to local businesses’ interest in providing leisure facilities such as cycle and canoe hire and the possibility of pleasure craft from Teignmouth.
 
5. TRAIN SERVICES
 
In the absence of a representative of First Great Western, the meeting requested the Town Clerk to enquire of the Company on the following issues:-
 
  • Why were passengers for Torbay advised by rail staff to change at Exeter rather than Newton Abbot?
  • What was the reason for changes to the waiting times at the railway Station forecourt? 20 minutes was not considered long enough, especially if a service was running late.
  • There appeared to be an unacceptable increase in overcrowding of trains from Newton Abbot to various destinations. Was there any limits on the number of tickets sold for an individual service? A service from Newton Abbot to Penzance of only two carriages was recently witnessed as having 62 passengers waiting to board, and there were already passengers using the service.
  • A member of the Forum reported an example of a negative attitude by staff on an overcrowded service from Newton Abbot to Saltash.
  • What were the details of the proposal to create a direct service to the South West from Heathrow Airport?
  • The Forum was concerned to learn that Plymouth had been lobbying for faster trains from London to Penzance by not stopping at various stations. The meeting was concerned that the viability of some of the towns serviced by the London service would be adversely affected.
  • Was there any progress with the proposals for a footbridge over the railway line to Brunel Estate?
  • Was the proposal to open a halt at Kingskerswell progressing?
  • The meeting discussed the current franchise exercise and the shortage of rolling-stock.
6. BUS COMPANIES/SERVICES
 
(a) Stagecoach – Mr Mizen expressed his apologies for not attending the previous meeting, had tried to notify the Clerk but used an incorrect e-mail address.
 
He was pleased to report that 23 new double decker buses had been brought into service for the number 12 service at a cost of £3.9m. However, he was disappointed to inform the meeting that there had been a 20% reduction in the industry’s Bus Operator’s Grant (BOG) which coupled with inflationary pressures had led to a fare increase of an average of 5%. The Company was of course committed to improving quality but ensuring reliability and punctuality in return for the cost of the services. 
 
Mr Mizen then responded to the questions raised at the previous meeting as follows:- 
  • raised bus stops and lowering of the buses as and when required/requested – 100% of its fleet was now low floor but he accepted it still relied upon drivers using the facility. As the whole fleet was also fitted with CCTV, any incident reported could be investigated. 
  • position of the bus stop on the Kingsteignton Road and its close proximity to the Cricketfield Road junction and traffic lights. It was noted that Devon County Council determined stop locations, not the bus companies;
  • the 12 and 2 services and the use of large double decker buses in inappropriate locations – He explained that if there were incidents of inaccessible routes caused by inconsiderate parking the police could be called;
  • questions as to whether the relatively new double decker buses would remain in the Newton Abbot area? Yes.
  • waiting buses with engines left running and the effect on air quality, particularly in Sherborne Road – He requested that the Company be informed of such occasions as the rule was for the engines to be run for no longer than two minutes before shut-off.

He was asked questions regarding advice by drivers on the cheapest available fares;ensuring that passengers were sat down before the busses started their journey; and issues regarding bus passes. 

Finally, Mr Mizen reported that he was moving out of the area and hoped to be able to bring his replacement to the next meeting. The Chairman thanked him for his attendance and input into the Forum over the past few years and wished him well for the future.
 
(b) Country Bus – Mr Neil Romig referred to his Company experiencing similar pressures to Stagecoach but was pleased to report that there was a minor extension approved to the 193 service which would offer better access to Dartmoor via Haytor.
 
(c) Devon County Council – Mr Fishpool was pleased to inform the meeting that the budget for 2012/13 would be the same as the previous year and therefore there would be no further budget cuts this year.
 
In general he explained that due to economic pressures commercial providers were finding some routes were not viable, however, it was unlikely there would be any cuts to existing services. It was noted that a new timetable would be available for services from 28th May and was currently being printed.
 
The Chairman enquired of Mr Fishpool whether the service to The Willows, although being before the concessionary fares time, should permit the use of bus passes as it was the only service? Mr Fishpool concurred that in principle that would be the case, but undertook to investigate the matter with his colleagues and report back. The meeting discussed proposals in other areas to ‘charge’ those with concessionary bus passes. It was explained that under current legislation, such an approach would be illegal.
 
In conclusion, Mr Fishpool reported that the County Council had in conjunction with Somerset County Council submitted bids for Government funding for additional services to the National Parks. A response was expected in May 2012.
 
(d) Community Transport – Mrs Yendall explained that it had been encouraged to consider Schedule 22 Permits (as opposed to Section 19 as currently operated) with a view to it filling the gaps created by the commercial operators dropping out of uneconomical services. Her service would be involved in training shortly. Mr Yendall explained that community transport was experiencing similar pressures to the commercial operators and that sufficient funding continued to be an issue.
 
7. OTHER MATTERS RAISED AT THE MEETING
 
Reference was made to problems experienced with the phasing of the traffic lights at the ASDA junction and the issues caused as a consequence. Councillor Mrs Fry and the Town Clerk agreed to take up the matter with the County Council.
 
8. DATE AND TIME OF NEXT MEETING
 
It was noted that the next meeting of the Forum would be held on a date to be agreed.
 
CHAIRMAN
 
The meeting concluded at 1950 hours.
 
 
 
 

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