Petition to bring half-hourly bus back to villages

The number seven in Sompting
The number seven in Sompting

RESIDENTS have launched a petition demanding local councils find ways to restore a half-hourly number-seven bus service in Sompting and North Lancing.

Chairman of Cokeham Lib Dems Kay Vincent said there were a number of affordable options to restore the service.

“It is not good enough for councils to wash their hands of the matter,” said Mrs Vincent, adding that she was pleased people were already signing the petition.

Stagecoach, which operates the number-seven route from Lancing through Sompting and Worthing to High Salvington, cut the half-hourly service after funding was withdrawn in 2012.

Mrs Vincent said Adur and Worthing councils, West Sussex County Council and Lancing and Sompting parish councils could be working together to find a solution to the problem.

“It’s about time they started talking to one another to come up with a joint plan to restore the service,” she said.

Mrs Vincent has suggested that although providing a half-hourly service along the whole route from Lancing to High Salvington might be expensive, it could be possible to provide a cheaper option by running a half-hourly service from Lancing through Sompting to central Worthing.

“If the five councils co-operated in financing the service along this part of the route, the cost should be affordable for all of them,” she said.

Jemima Bland, Liberal Democrat candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham, is backing the campaign.

“Kay has mapped out a practical plan showing how truly joined-up local government should work,” said Ms Bland.

“It’s about time these councils faced up to their responsibilities to the hundreds of bus users in North Lancing and Sompting.”

Adur leader Neil Parkin said public transport and bus subsidies were responsibilities of the county-council which received 80 per cent of the council tax.

Sompting Parish Council (SPC) chairman Barry Mear said the council had not washed its hands of the issue, but discussions with the district and county councils about a ‘joined-up approach’ to the problem had failed.

He said rather than launching a petition, SPC had sat down with the bus companies to find a solution.

“Thankfully, both bus companies had a positive approach to work with us,” said Cllr Mear.

A questionnaire will appear in the next edition of the parish magazine, the Sompting Signpost, to see if route diversions at certain times might help solve the problem for some residents.