Bath & NE Somerset Council to renew community fleet

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Bath and North East Somerset Council is to spend more than £0.5m renewing its community bus fleet, the Bath Chronicle reported.

The six vehicles, which are used to send children to school or transport elderly and disabled residents, are to be replaced because of the fleet’s increasing demand.

The Council said there has been a 31% increase in the number of pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) who require organised transport.

A council spokesman said: “A child is entitled to free transport if they can’t walk to school because of their special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) or mobility problem.”

Funds were available to replace some of the council’s fleet in 2011, but the local authority said older buses which weren’t replaced caused some service delivery issues and are more unreliable.

Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, Cllr Anthony Clarke (Conservative), said he is looking to approve £540,000 of funding to replace the vehicles.

Of this, £180,000 will be capital budget spending in the current financial year to replace two vehicles, with a further £360,000 to be spent in the 2017/18 financial year.

In the longer term, the council said it is considering Mercedes-Benz minibuses, which are likely to be in use between 2019 and 2021.

A council report stated: “As a result of the new managed replacement plan, we will be in a position to arrange for the future replacement of the fleet to be spread out over a seven year period and therefore negate the issue of having a large number of vehicles of exactly the same age in the fleet.”

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