Bus passengers fear isolation if money-saving plans go ahead

Passengers on board the number 24 bus coming from Harby to Melton on market day

Passengers on board the number 24 bus coming from Harby to Melton on market day

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VILLAGERS in the Vale of Belvoir fear they will be left isolated if cost-cutting proposals to scrap vital bus services are approved.

Leicestershire County Council wants to reduce a number of services covering the area, which it says are under-used, and replace them with a less frequent service or ‘demand responsive transport’ service.

In some cases, instead of buses, services would involve the use of taxis, mini-buses and other community transport which would have to be pre-booked at least a day before travel.

Mike Weston, of Harby, a regular user of the number 24 bus to Melton, said: “I fear this will affect a lot of people in the borough and impact on the town itself, especially on market day.”

Colette McCormack, from Bottesford, said: “It’s ridiculous. These services are a lifeline for us.

“It’s not just the problems it will cause for the elderly and vulnerable. Children need to have some independence to meet friends in other villages. They don’t want to rely on their parents.”

County Hall’s current policy is to provide a day-time hourly bus service within an 800-metre walk for 95 per cent of the county’s residents. Less frequent services, or ‘demand responsive transport’, is provided where needed for the other five per cent.

But council plans to save £750,000 could see this policy scrapped and replaced with a new policy involving a range of alternative transport solutions.

The council’s cabinet considered the proposals on Tuesday.

The report to the cabinet stated: “The proposed new policy will have an impact on the current network in that regular contracted bus services that currently operate in some areas will have their frequency reduced or, in some cases, cease.

“Alternative methods of transport will be explored with local communities.”

County Hall is planning to launch a public consultation from April 16 to July 8 before any decisions are made.

l What do you think of the plans to cut services in rural areas? E-mail comment@granthamjournal.co.uk