A RALLY is being held by Somerset Bus Partnership to protest the planned closure of key passenger services, including the public toilets, at Yeovil Bus Station. 

Somerset Bus Partnership will be protesting the planned closure of the Yeovil Bus Station toilets and waiting room, set to close on May 31. It is calling on Somerset Council to maintain essential services for Yeovil passengers.

The rally is taking place from 14.45 on Friday, May 17 at Yeovil Bus Station in response to the "downgrading" of the station’s facilities.

The Somerset Bus Partnership said: "We welcome the Yeovil Refresh and the transformative impact it is having and will have on the town. We also welcome the role Somerset Council will now be playing in the redevelopment of Glovers Wharf. We trust that an enhanced bus station will become a key feature of this redevelopment. 

"But redevelopment is at best a medium-term solution, in the interim it is vital the current services at Yeovil Bus Station are maintained. The toilets and waiting room are set to close on May 31 with, as yet, no alternative provision of these essential services for bus passengers. This is simply unacceptable for what is an important regional bus hub."

Somerset Council has agreed to keep the waiting room open for at least another few months with the support of the Somerset Bus Partnership and First Bus South West has now been agreed. 

The Council previously said that it would try to “reduce the impact” of the closure and would work to preserve bus services if the station site was sold off.

The toilets and waiting room, near the Glovers Walk shopping centre, cost around £70,000 a year to operate. 

Councillor Richard Wilkins, Somerset Council’s Lead Member for Transport and Digital said he was aware there was a need for reassurance and understood people’s concerns. 

 Councillor Wilkins said: “It is clear people are worried about the future of the bus station.

“That is why we are underlining our commitment to keeping it operational – there are absolutely no plans to close it. 

“We have had to take the decision to close the toilets and initially the waiting room to save on cleaning and maintenance costs – we have been very clear that due to the Council’s financial situation this needed to happen. 

“This is in line with difficult and heartbreaking decisions we’ve had to make across Somerset.

“However, I’m really pleased we can now keep the waiting room open for the immediate future, following an agreement between the bus user group and operator. 

“Please be assured that we remain committed to seeking further funding from Government from the Bus Service Improvement Fund, and working with partners, to maintain facilities at the bus station in the future - this is an evolving regeneration process. 

“You are likely to see some changes in the coming months – some of the buildings will be demolished as part of the regeneration but the bus station will remain operational throughout and into the long-term future.” 

Somerset’s Bus Service Improvement Plan aims to make bus travel more attractive and sustainable in the county and the Council has so far been awarded nearly £13 million from Government for a raft of initiatives, including ensuring that key services between Yeovil and Taunton can continue to run.