Monday, 24 August 2015

Open meeting with First Kernow

I have organised an open meeting in Summercourt, which will take place on Thursday 27th August at the New Memorial Hall. The meeting will be addressed by Alex Carter, the managing director of the bus company First Kernow. It will start at 8.00.

First Kernow have purchased the Western Greyhound depot in St Austell Street, Summercourt, and Mr Carter is keen to meet with local people to discuss his plans for the site and to discuss how he might be able to increase bus services to the village.

He has prepared a statement which I circulated around Summercourt today. It was as follows:


In March 2015, the Western Greyhound company abruptly ceased trading, leaving users of its extensive network of local bus routes unserved. Over the course of a frenetic weekend, and in liaison with Cornwall Council, First Kernow was able to restore the majority of the routes with minimal disruption to passengers.

The additional vehicles and staff required to service these routes have placed a severe strain on First Kernow’s existing support depots, the majority of which already were operating at near capacity. The Western Greyhound administrators then placed the Summercourt premises for sale, and they were purchased by First.

Because this has happened unusually quickly compared to a normal business planning process to source and develop additional premises, our plans for the usage of Summercourt are still not fully formed. However, we envisage the following:-

We will maintain a fleet of 60 buses and coaches at Summercourt. These will be vehicles allocated to Summercourt itself, and to other non-maintenance locations, notably Eden and Newquay.

We expect the operational fleet at Summercourt to be no more than 40 of these 60 maintained vehicles. The vehicles will be a mix of single and double deck vehicles, and coaches.

Currently we are clearing, tidying and improving the site, both internally and externally. We anticipate commencing vehicle maintenance on site in early September, and bus operations from mid-October 2015.

The bus operations are likely to be predominantly double deck college services, so departing depot around 0700-0730, returning around 1000hrs, and then out again for the return run at around 1530, returning by 1900. These are Monday to Friday term time operations. There will be other standard bus routes operated, but the College services will be the majority.

So, most of the operating fleet will travel to and from the site between 0700 and 1900hrs; maintenance shifts are more likely to be spread from 0500 through to 0100hrs, as part of the responsibility will be breakdown cover for vehicles operating across the area throughout those times.

All of the above is subject to confirmation as we develop and confirm plans, but it is what we anticipate at this stage

We fully recognise the sensitivities around a bus operating centre on the edge of a rural village. We very much wish to be good neighbours and have a positive relationship with our residents in and around Summercourt. Our presence brings a source of valuable employment to these rural communities.

Fundamentally, we shall of course comply fully with our obligations under the planning permission which is granted to the site. However, we wish to go beyond that and develop a code of conduct for our staff to observe in respect of site maintenance and cleanliness, selective use of approach roads, vehicle speed, noise levels and so on. We will be happy to publish and share this with residents of the village.

We also know that bus routes serving Summercourt have declined significantly since the demise of Western Greyhound. In addition to maintaining the two hourly St Austell – Newquay service which passes through the village, which is operated on behalf of Cornwall Council, we shall examine the possibility of diverting an hourly Truro-Newquay route via Summercourt.

We look forward to meeting our neighbours and customers and having the opportunity to further explain our plans

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