Lifeline offered to hundreds of isolated villagers

Cutbacks to he No. 7 bus service have left hundreds of Sompting Residents isolated
Cutbacks to he No. 7 bus service have left hundreds of Sompting Residents isolated

HUNDREDS of isolated residents in North Sompting could be thrown a lifeline by the group helping the village spend a £1million Lottery grant.

The Sompting Big Local Partnership is proposing to run a shuttle bus to replace the number 7 service, formerly subsidised by West Sussex County Council.

The group has put together a plan to provide a local service on Sundays and bank holidays, when many isolated residents are now unable to travel.

Chairman of the transport committee, Kay Vincent said: “At the moment there are people in North Sompting who don’t have any transport at all on Sundays and bank holidays and they are isolated.

“Sompting Big Local is all about helping the Sompting community and I think this is a great way of helping people who otherwise would be abandoned by other organisations.”

The group’s transport committee hopes the service could become self financing in future, and possibly extended to also cover evenings.

In a recent report, the committee outlined the benefits the new shuttle service would bring to the community.

The report said the service would make residents less isolated, allowing them to get to the shops, church and to meet friends.

It also said shops in Test Road, Cokeham Parade, Crabtree Lane and Manor Road would benefit from more trade, and that bus users would be able to connect with the Pulse service linking them to Lancing railway station and facilities in Worthing.

The committee suggested running the bus on a six month trial, to start at the end of September.

“I think we are getting close to a breakthrough here and should be able to provide transport for people in Sompting by Christmas at the latest, when people will be most affected by bank holidays,” said Mrs Vincent.

If the plans are agreed by the full Big Local partnership, the committee hopes to purchase its own minibus at a cost of around £25,000.

In the meantime it is looking to hire a bus company to run the service at a cost of around £50 an hour, or £300 for a six-hour day.

It will gather data about how many people use the service to make sure it is offering the best value for money.

The committee has come up with a proposed route, which does not extend as far and Broadwater and High Salvington, but has been asked to design an alternative that would include Sainsbury’s at Lyons Farm.

Sompting Parish Council chairman Barry Mear expressed his support for the scheme at a recent meeting.