At the recent meeting of about 100 residents David explained that no commercial company was interested in running a service to Southill despite all three local companies being approached on many occasions and various options suggested. The present bus subsidised by DCC would cease trading in July as it too failed to meet its costs even though these were much lower than a commercial operation, and the County has cut £1.85m of its bus budget.
However all the completed forms about the buses provided us with evidence of a desire to have a more regular service when more people might use it. The time to wait for a lift home was too long and so many people thought it was better to pay the car park charges or taxi fares. With this in mind the meeting looked at the option of us managing a community bus on our own, as many villages are having to do. We are fortunate in that Dawn Walker, the owner of the P D Contract buses you may have seen parked on the estate, and who lives in Southill, was very happy to explore how she could help us set up such a service. Most community bus developments have to find a way of raising funds for a bus in the first place, and then look for drivers, Dawn can help us with both of these. The Southill charity, SPARK, has agreed to act as banker and overseer.
What does a community bus service mean for us?
- Clearly any community bus scheme has to cover its costs and so we will have to pay to use the service.
- A community bus scheme means we have to “reserve” our seat on our bus in advance and cannot be randomly picked up like a commercial service.
- A community bus scheme can pick up from someone’s home when walking is difficult, but more important, can drop you off nearer your home on the return trip as it is not tied to bus stops, although we anticipate these will be used as the main pick up points, especially those with shelters.
- SPARK has applied for a grant to help us provide support for the service as it builds up a routine so that individual charges can be guaranteed.
- The grant will also be used to support a booking system so that this can work effectively
- Regular users will provide a backbone but other people can use the bus on an occasional basis as long as they have “booked”.
- Dawn has enough flexibility to get two groups to town at more or less the same time and most of her buses can take wheelchair users.
- If it works we may be able to organise a Saturday service and it should continue in the school holidays
How will it operate?
We are starting with buses being planned at around 1000 and 1200 to go into town, with the 1100 bus still running until July in between. We would assume that this would lead to something coming home at 1030, 1130 and 1230. The afternoon bus will still run at 2.00pm and come back at about 2.30pm until July. If several of you wish to go into town on the 2.00pm bus and wish to come home at about 4/4.30pm then please contact P&D contracts and we hope this will be possible and become a regular pick-up.
If you are looking to make a trip into town it would be helpful if you could ring the day before to book your times and indicate where you wished to be picked up. Users will be given a form to complete when they use the bus for the first time asking for details of your usual pick-up point and contact details. We anticipate using the bus stops initially but this can change. If you suddenly decide to go into town you can still call the number provided and hope there is a space. If enough people ask for a lift at or near a particular time then a second bus may be provided. As people start using it and get to know who else often travels then a group might decide on different times and as long as we are between 6 and 8 people this should pay for itself, but we will monitor this as we will only have so much seed funding.
Starting –up details
To start the service off we will charge £1.50 from Southill and £1.00 from Goldcroft. At the start we will operate at this price even if only one or two people wish to catch a particular bus, but if enough people regularly use the service we may be able to reduce these charges.
The numbers you should ring are 01305 779157 or 07970 016851 and you will need to say when you wish to travel and where you wish to be collected from. This line will be open from May 12th. If you fill in a form with your details on (Address, pick up point and contact details) all you would have to say is the time and your name as all other details will be “in the system”. If there is not someone available to answer your call you will be able to leave a message and a confirmation will be made to you in good time. One way journeys are fine for those who wish to walk one way, as long as they are booked. The prices above are estimates based on the bus being full one way so if it is full both ways so much the better! If a group of you wish to go to the cinema or other entertainment then other times can be considered at this price as long as there are around 6 in the group.
Initially the main drop off points in town will be at the back of M&S, the back of Debenhams and ASDA. To come home we will initially use M&S, Town Bridge and ASDA. In Goldcroft Road pick-ups will be at either end or at Thornhill Road.
It is planned to start the Service on 15th May
Orchard Manager wanted
The environment team would like a volunteer to help us manage the orchard -- the land between the car park and the road. All it requires is a knowledge of when to prune fruit trees and to keep an eye on the trees which Transition Towns planted for us so that we do not let them die in a drought and prune them at the right times. If you are interested in talking about this please contact Ann on 785333 or David on 781660.
Our first daffodil is in flower and clearly there are some more on their way. This first year has been quite testing weather wise and those on the bank next to the car park entrance are clearly struggling a little. However daffodils are quite hardy so hopefully there will be a better display next year. Once the weather improves we shall be tackling the flower bed again. Volunteers welcome!
Watch out for these in the next two months. They are just appearing despite the long grass.
We were delighted to have been joined by Class 2 of Southill Primary school who helped us plant around 500 daffodil bulbs in front of the shops and on the entrance to the car park. These should give us a feast of colour in March and we would like to thank Goulds and Wilkinsons for donating most of the bulbs alongside one or two residents. We have added some pictures below but if you want to see more and what the children said about the activity please go to http://www.southill.dorset.sch.uk/planting-daffodils-with-class-two/
Southill Flower Bed renovation
The group has been set up to try and return Southill to the Garden Estate it was planned as. Anyone who would like to get involved on an occasional basis, or help us plan, please get in touch. The first task the Environment group decided to tackle, was the flower bed outside of the shops.
As you can see from this picture we finally managed to remove the tree stump, the weeds and many stones and planted flowers from many donations around the Estate. One or two members of the team lugged water from across the road during the dry Spring and this autumn view shows the effort was worth while. We will be asking for help on occasional days to re-weed, or to plant next Spring. If you would like to get involved in the maintenance of the garden with an occasional flurry with a trowel, please let Ann Chard know on 785333. The team would like to thanks Caviar Place for the free fish and chips they provided us for sustenance on one of the hot early summer days.
A longer project is to make the cycleway/footpath through the estate an attractive element of the route from Dorchester to Portland, as well as for those of us on the estate who walk around it, with or without dogs. We had a day in July when we started work on making the metre either side of the track more under control so that we can plant wild flowers along side without them being swamped. We were helped by about twenty young people from Budmouth college who were involved in a community day and the mayor, Councillor Christine James, came and cheered them on. We also hope to plant some bluebell and snowdrop bulbs in some of the wooded areas along the path and possibly some flowering trees with the help of the transition town team. If you would like to get involved in this project on an occasional basis please let us know so we can keep you in touch with what is happening.
Another of the plans that we have is to plant over 500 daffodils on the banks facing the car park and shops. The Budmouth helpers in July dug several holes in readiness for this and a class from Southill Primary School should help us plant them in October. This should bring the Southill Garden Estate alive next Spring. We'll add a picture showing the bulbs in full bloom but in the meantime the picture shows where they are to be planted.
The area above this bank (which will have its daffodils planted on 19th October) on the entrance to the car park has been planted with fruit trees by the Transition Town project in Weymouth. Once the trees are old enough to bear fruit it is there for the community to eat along with the fabulous blackberries that grow above the car-parking area. Transition Town project encourages using open spaces to generate food as well as look attractive, and they will be working with us as we progress our ideas.
Work on the edges of the cycle way Part 2