Council branded 'foolish' after threat to axe three Welwyn Hatfield bus services

PUBLISHED: 13:47 22 November 2016 | UPDATED: 13:47 22 November 2016

Deputy mayor of Welwyn Hatfield Cllr Lynne Sparks is unhappy at the councils proposed cuts to the bus services in the area.

Deputy mayor of Welwyn Hatfield Cllr Lynne Sparks is unhappy at the councils proposed cuts to the bus services in the area.

Danny Loo Photography 2016

The county council has been slammed as "foolish" after threatening to axe three bus services in Welwyn Hatfield.

Uno buses 600, 607 and the 655 are at risk of being withdrawn from service from the end of March 2017 if Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) deems they’re not being efficiently used and making enough profit.

The bus services are funded by the Hatfield Business Park’s S106 funding, but the last tranche has now been spent on building the new Hatfield Station interchange.

A Hertfordshire County Council spokesperson said: “When S106 funding for the 607 service runs out at the end of March 2017, the council will work with commercial operators to assess the viability of the service.

“If the service is not commercially viable we will consider if the county council is able to support the service subject to available budget, and the value for money criteria agreed in May, 2015. These consider a range of factors such as passenger numbers, cost per journey, etc.

“Subject to discussions with commercial operators and a review of the service, a decision will be made by the end of December 2016.”

Duncan Bell, councillor for Hatfield Villages, said: “It will be a loss to lose those buses. It will affect a lot of people.

“It looks foolish as we are finalising the Local Plan and part of the Local Plan is to increase bus services.”

It costs £137,148 a year to run the 607 bus service, which runs a circle route around Hatfield, stopping at popular areas such as Hatfield Business Park, the university, The Galleria and Hatfield Train Station.

Peter Ellingworth, a resident of Hatfield Garden Village, said: “It would be very short-sighted to cut or even reduce the 607 service, especially as the Hatfield Villages will experience considerable population growth with further housing developments in the coming years.

“The service has already been cut completely on Sundays and bank holidays, leaving the Garden Villages and business park residents without buses, meaning some of my elderly neighbours having to rely on relatives or neighbours if they can.”

Lynne Sparks, deputy mayor and councillor for Hatfield Villages, said: “It’s a real shame as there are many local people who rely on the bus service. We also have parking issues throughout the town so removing the bus service will only put further pressure on the limited parking we have.

“The bus company may consider keeping the service if passenger numbers show it’s commercially viable.

“I really do think it’s a case of use it or lose it. I’d urge people to use the service themselves and spread the word that the 607 bus service is great for travelling around the town.”

What are your views on the possibility of the buses being axed? email letters@whtimes.co.uk

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