Paulton residents, who campaigned over bus cuts last year, are celebrating the news that the very first WESTlocal will serve their area.

WESTlocal, from Mayor Dan Norris’s West of England Mayoral Combined Authority, allows communities to access cash to design and run their very own, brand-new, not-for-profit bus.

When he launched WESTlocal last year, Mayor Norris explained how “local people know their areas best” and that he was looking forward to some “new and innovative” ideas. Now he says he is “delighted that local people have risen to the challenge. It’s people power in action.”

The first successful bid is led by Paulton Parish Council. The Paulton WESTlocal will link communities across the Somer Valley and Cam Valley running from Radstock to Odd Down Park and Ride via Westfield, Midsomer Norton, Paulton, Radford, Timsbury, Camerton and Tunley.

The service will run five times a day starting in the Spring.

Mayor Dan Norris said: “Local people came together and said they wanted better links to local shops and schools as well as to the RUH. They’ve put in the hard graft to design a bespoke plan, so I’m delighted that they’ve won the first WESTlocal.

"I really hope local people use the service - that will be the true measure of success.”

Paulton Councillor Grant Johnson, who led the application on behalf of the Parish Council, said: “After setting up a Bus Working Party on Paulton Parish Council last year, myself, Cllr Liz Hardman, and Cllr Cyril Mitchard have worked with local experts to come up with this WESTlocal. We wanted to make sure that it covered all the areas that are not served by a bus, including areas where there is a particular need for social mobility.

Councillors Grant Johnson and Liz Hardman with Metro Mayor Dan Norris at the launch of WESTlocal buses.
(Metro Mayor Dan Norris)

“I’m pleased we’ve been successful in securing this funding from the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority, led by Mayor Dan Norris. Let’s get on with making this vital service for Paultonians a success.”

Ninety-year-old Marion Harrington said she was “delighted”, and hopes to be one of the first to try the new WESTlocal.

Cllr Cyril Mitchard was thrilled to hear the news, saying: "I'm delighted for what this service will do for Paulton and other nearby communities. I hope to see many residents on the service so we can make it as successful as it can be."

Cllr Liz Hardman joined in welcoming the WESTlocal, adding: “When I was elected as a Councillor, I said my main priority was to get a local service to serve the needs of our residents.

"I’m so grateful to my colleague Grant Johnson for all the hard work he has put into this WESTlocal bid - he really does deserve to be recognised.”

More WESTlocals are set to be introduced over the next two years.

Funds remain available and other community groups, schools, faith groups, Town and Parish Councils with a brilliant bus idea are encouraged to apply by visiting here.

How can you qualify for WESTlocal?

Do you have a ‘brilliant bus idea’? Metro Mayor Dan Norris is calling on local community groups and organisations to pitch their ideas.

WESTlocal criteria:

  • Are locally designed,
  • Introduce new provision rather than sustaining schemes and services that are already in place,
  • Operate not-for-profit, with any surplus reinvested in the scheme,
  • Help reduce carbon emissions by moving people away from reliance on privately-owned cars,
  • Demonstrate clear demand within the community for the service and
  • Have a clear plan for ongoing monitoring and improvement during the funding period