Page last updated at 06:59 GMT, Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Rethink plea over Snowdonia buses

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The Welsh Assembly Government will be withdrawing funding from the Snowdon Sherpa bus

An appeal has been made to keep a bus service aimed at allowing people without cars to reach popular areas of the Snowdonia National Park.

Transport minister Ieuan Wyn Jones has been asked to rethink a decision to stop funding for Sherpa buses.

The buses also let visitors and local people get about without their cars.

But the assembly government said it had made clear that the funding had a time limit and had been intended to help the service set up and test demand.

Mr Jones has told the Snowdonia Society funding will end as scheduled in March.

In a letter to the Snowdonia Society, Mr Jones said funding for the buses, as part of the "green key" scheme was "time limited" and provided over a number of years "to test the commercial viability of several innovative bus schemes".

"At no time have we committed to funding this project beyond next March, so our funding is not being ended early," he wrote.

The Snowdonia Green Key Partnership, which is in charge of the Sherpa service, told BBC Wales that "previous correspondence with the assembly government stated that funding was scheduled to decrease gradually each year".

The partnership is made up of Conwy and Gwynedd Councils, as well as the Countryside Council for Wales and Snowdonia National Park Authority.

Commercial viability

They had written to the assembly government "to express their dissatisfaction and concern and to ask for the decision to be reconsidered"

But Mr Jones has told both the Snowdonia Society and the partnership that the funding will not be extended.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said it had made it clear at the start that there would be a time limit on funding, which was intended to support the Sherpa service when it started "to enable patronage and income to grow, and to test the commercial viability of the service".

The spokesperson added: "At one stage it was hoped that it might be possible for our funding to be phased-out over several years. However, that has not proved possible given the other demands on limited resources."

Local authorities were informed last July to give them time to make alternative arrangements.

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