THE proposed closure of Taunton Park and Ride services on Saturdays has been put back until after Christmas - a relief for more than 1,500 people that used the service last December.

In July, Somerset County Council announced the cut as part of a plan to save £18million.

The cut was originally set to take place in ‘the autumn’, but the council says it will be postponing the change until after Christmas.

Stopping the service is set to save the council £50,000.

Figures obtained by your County Gazette in a Freedom of Information request, show that in December last year, 3,256 trips were made on the Saturday service, equating to nearly 10 per cent of all trips that month, which totalled 33,619 journeys.

In November 2016, 3,011 trips were made on Saturdays, eight per cent of the 37,353 trips made that month.

Currently, the Saturday service runs every 15 minutes from 7.30am, with last departures from the town centre at 6.12pm to Silk Mills and 6.15pm to Gateway.

News of the delay has been welcomed, but fears remain for next year.

Cllr Mike Rigby, shadow portfolio holder for highways and transport at the county council, said: “It’s a good idea to keep the park and ride going for as long as possible and it’s good news for traders in the town.

“Taunton struggles to compete with its shopping neighbours, like Bristol and Exeter, so losing the park and ride doesn’t help.

“It’s regrettable that we have to make these cuts. The facilities are quite well-used and it’s a real shame to lose it.”

The council said that the cuts will go ahead next year due to “huge pressure” on the budget.

A spokesperson for SCC said: “We can confirm that the Saturday service will continue over the Christmas period, but the intention is still that it will cease after this time.

“Use of the service is considerably lower than on week days and unfortunately it does not add up financially at a time when we have huge pressures on budget and we have to prioritise services where there are no alternatives.

“We have been discussing with partners ways in which the impacts of the withdrawal can be minimised and are hopeful that the key areas of concerns can be addressed.”