Protest over Bridgwater depot closure

Campaigners took to the streets today in protect at First Group’s decision to close Bridgwater bus depot. Although the bus station will remain open, 53 drivers will now be expected to find their own way to Taunton to pick up their buses. Dave Chapple from the Bridgwater Trades Union Council said even the rest room for drivers was at risk. Speaking at the protest today Mr Chapple said ‘Bridgwater won’t give up without a fight’. David Redgewell of the Somerset Bus Partnership travelled (by bus) from Frome to voice his support for the depot. Somerset Councillor and Leader of the Labour Group Leigh Redman interrupted his holiday to phone in his support.

Meanwhile Somerset and Bridgwater Councillor Brian Smedley  has written to Simon Goff, Managing Director of First Buses. In his letter he told Mr Goff “Bus travel is on the increase across the country and it’s a priority for a green and sustainable future so they need to think long term not short term. Bridgwater is a growing town with increased industry coming here and its already a transport hub so it’s incredibly short sighted to close this crucial service centre now and relocate these 53 people around the county when they’re needed here along with the bus depot.”

He also took a swipe at the LibDem administration at Somerset Council. He claimed Lib Dem Transport Portfolio Holder Cllr Mike Rigby had been ‘asleep at the wheel’.

He also pointed out the decision ran contrary to green policies adopted by the town. In response, Mr Goff suggested that the Somerset services were running at a loss. He states that the company cannot continue to run services at a loss.

First Group which owns Buses for Somerset reported adjusted attributable profit of £82.1m for 2023. Figures which it said were ahead of expectations and more than doubled the 2022 result of £36.2m.

Cllr Smedley has asked Mr Goff to come and meet in Bridgwater. He wants to discuss the issues around the local service and the impact the changes will have on the 53 staff based at the depot.


  • BRAVO, LEVELLER! Somerset’s ‘largest’ circulation Newspaper in a decennial; lest we forget my ‘prior’ deposition 18 August:- since we’ve witnessed the Election at Frome & Somerton of LD Sarah Dyke MP, the same ‘cohort’ active’ Coalition Partners in Cameron’s Government; alas sometime Deputy Prime Minister ‘adjourned’ to ‘sun-rise’ California! Masters at Taunton Town Council/Somerset Unitary Authority.

    A corollary the CLOSURE of Glastonbury Road, Police Station, WELLS, with consequent ‘criminality’ pace Wells Voice – August – ‘Pooling knowledge to counter shoplifters’ a national-crises.

    A bird’s eye view from this ‘octogenarian’ having acquired the former Wells Bus Station, Priory Road (1984) a ‘precursor’ to Messrs Smallwood & Snowdon’s acquisition in the ‘purchase of Badgerline consequent the Thatcher ‘privatisation’ the rest is history as they say. The irony ‘removal’ to Princess Road, minus the previous facilities, with local-authority largesse.*

    “However, the biggest operational change will be the closure of the Bridgwater depot. Simon Goff, Managing Director of First Group commented: “To protect the future of Buses of Somerset, we are making some operational changes to our business and have taken the difficult decision to propose the closure of Bridgwater depot. This is not a decision we have taken lightly, and our people are all being supported to find new roles in our business. We are operating in extremely challenging circumstances, with rising costs, and while passenger numbers are increasing due to current fare promotion schemes, they are still below pre-covid levels, which is affecting the viability of some routes”.

    WSM similarly, Taunton/Yeovil next?

    Didn’t they do well:-Badgerline was a bus operator in and around Bristol from 1985 until 2003. Its headquarters were in Weston-super-Mare. Initially a part of the Bristol Omnibus Company, it was privatised in September 1986 and sold to Badgerline Holdings in a management buyout. Wikipedia

    Parent organization: FirstGroup
    Founded: April 1985
    *Latterly Wetherspoons ‘Quarter Jack’.

  • Christopher Noble

    Very likely Yeovil will be the next to go.The service to Taunton has been cut to the bone and First has acquired a subsidy from Somerset Council to run the service which has been plagued by cancellations and buses breaking down which has, rather naturally, deterred some people from using the 54. Cutting services is no way to run a business. Rather oddly First has increased train services through Yeovil Pen Mill in complete contrast to their attitude towards their buses, and they are essentially a bus company!

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