Decision Maker: Executive Director Place and Communities
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Purpose of Significant Decision
- To set out the reasons for the proposed withdrawal of revenue funding from supported bus
services from 1st April 2023.
- To set out the intention to inform the relevant bus operators, within the necessary timescales,
of this decision and the reasons for it.
- To set out the intention to explore potential alternative sources of funding for the same
The Transport service currently contracts with bus operators to provide a small number of bus services which would not otherwise be provided. SBC provides financial support to enable certain journeys on services 4 and 6 to be provided (First Bus) and on service 5 (Thames Valley Buses). It also funds a minor diversion of services 63 and 68 contracted by Buckinghamshire Council and operated by Red Eagle. Supported journeys on service 12 are provided by Thames Valley Buses (grant-funded for 3 years from March 2021).
Supported bus services are currently funded through the Council’s revenue fund and supplemented by some grant funding where appropriate and available. The proposed decision is to give notice on the various contracts for the 4, 5, 6, 63 and 68 services in order to deliver a saving of approximately £160k. Funding will continue for the 12 service via the existing grant. This decision is therefore made on financial grounds, due to the difficult financial circumstances currently faced by the Council. The decision also makes reference to possible alternative sources of funding which may enable the operators to maintain the relevant services and sets out all the related tasks and requirements relating to the cessation of revenue funding. These include notification to the operators, ongoing communications, continual network review and revision of the Bus Service Improvement Plan.
A business case has been prepared by the Place Directorate entitled Slough Borough Council – Medium Term Financial Strategy 2023/24 to 2025/26
Business Case for Change
The main purpose of the business case is to propose the financial saving that will be achieved through the withdrawal of revenue funding for supported services.
Nb: the business case includes reference to services 4, 5, and 6 only. For thoroughness, and consistent with the overall decision, revenue funding for all supported services will cease from April 2023.
It is agreed that:
- The reasons for the cessation of revenue funding for supported services be noted
- Notice be given to the bus operators of the services in question, informing them that financial support for this purpose from the Council will be withdrawn from 1st April 2023.
- Further investigation into alternative sources of funding be undertaken, with a view to trying to facilitate the continuation of the services, subject to demand.
It is also recommended that the Transport Service:
- Maintain and enhance ongoing dialogue with the bus operators, via the Enhanced Partnership and all appropriate channels.
- Undertake ongoing network reviews in order to support all subsequent service related decisions.
- Revise the Slough BSIP with a focus on supported services implications and any new projects or schemes that will be of benefit in this area.
- Commit to establishing or enhancing working relationships with all the relevant stakeholders, specifically the Local Access Forum, Disability Forum, and any other relevant neighbourhood group.
- Continue actively aligning Public Transport policy with all related policies, including the Local Transport Plan (LTP4), the Local Plan, the BSIP (all under review), Low Emission Strategy and the Carbon Strategy.
A copy of the full decision is available on request from email@example.com
Consistent with the business case, the following options have been considered:
Option 1: Terminate the current contracts provided by First Bus Berkshire and Thames Valley Buses.
This proposal would generate a saving of £160k but would be likely to result in the reduction or withdrawal of services in parts of Cippenham (service 5), withdrawal of evening journeys between Slough and Maidenhead (service 4) and the Sunday service to Wexham Court (service 6). SBC would also cease its funding for services 63 and 68 with the likely result that the infrequent service to Goldsworthy Way would be withdrawn.
Option 2: Reduce the number of contracts. This would return only a small amount of savings for each bus service, the service 4 and 6 have one contract each at a combined cost of £70k and the service 5 has three contracts totalling £90k.
Option 3: Renew all contracts, this would result in no saving but retain all services for the public.
For financial reasons, option 1 was recommended.
Impact on Stakeholders:
Withdrawal or reduction of services would be expected affect the following:
- Residents currently using the supported services
- Bus Operators
- Heathrow Airport (staff on shifts may be affected by withdrawal of evening journeys on route 4 between Slough and Maidenhead)
- Neighbouring LA’s (RBWM and Bucks Council as service 4 starts in Maidenhead and travels through Taplow)
- Adult Social Care (some residents may use the services to enable getting around the town and may not be able to undertake this journey going forward)
- Staff travelling to offices/ sites
- Children Services including the Company (some parents and children may use these services for travel to enable access to other services)
- Members (reaction from affected residents)
- Customer Call Centre (Volume of calls being received as a result of service withdrawal)
- Communications (Complaints and Media enquiries)
Publication date: 27/01/2023
Date of decision: 09/12/2022