FRACTIOUS issues that left Hampshire residents stranded as a result of water works and suspended bus services have now been resolved.
Parishioners in Colden Common and Twyford campaigned relentlessly demanding a much needed bus service after ongoing mains water works closed roads at Fisher’s Pond leaving many people without access to public transport when two bus companies were unable to continue their service.
The Stagecoach service 69 and the Brijan tours service 8 pulled their routes from Main Road through Twyford and Colden Common after discussions over financial help with Hampshire County Council and Southern Water collapsed at the beginning of this week.
The Bluestar service E1 was unaffected but due to its stops being located on New Road, far from the closures at Fisher’s Pond, elderly people were resigned to walk half a mile to it or ask neighbours for lifts to and from town while the works continue to the end of February.
However an agreement has now been reached between the three parties to provide an emergency shuttle service giving access to Winchester and Eastleigh for the residents.
Hampshire County Council’s executive member for economy, transport and environment, Cllr Seán Woodward, said: “Hampshire County Council has reached an agreement in principle with Southern Water that they will pay for a shuttle bus service for Colden Common during their water main replacement works.
“We have been working closely with Southern Water and the bus companies to resolve the reduced bus services during these works and I am pleased that we have been able to achieve a solution. The details of the shuttle bus service will be issued in due course once arrangements are finalised. It is unfortunate that this solution was not able to be finalised before the works began on Monday (January 6).
“This is in part due to disruption of the Christmas break and staff resource needing to be diverted to tackle storm damage.”
Colin Wright, principal transport officer for Hampshire County Council, said: “Hampshire County Council has no budgets to fund additional shuttle services but had already intervened to provide additional funding to maintain its statutory responsibilities on separate school transport contracts during this period, also with Brijan, and which are similarly affected.
“However following further high-level discussions between Hampshire County Council and Southern Water to reach a more satisfactory outcome, I am now pleased [to provide] details of the shuttle services on routes 8 and 69 that will be provided by the respective operators.”
But the situation has left many residents reeling from the problems feeling too little has been done too late.
Parish chair, Cllr Richard Izard, said: “Why wasn’t it done before now? We presume the buses are working but as far as I’m concerned leaving it this late and using the lack of staff during the Christmas break isn’t an excuse. We’ve known about the road closures for months. As far as the people are concerned it shouldn’t have come to this.”