Cutting village bus would be ‘disaster’

Fears have been raised over the potential loss of a village bus service, which one critic has said would be a ‘disaster’ for the local community.

Northumberland County Council’s public transport newsletter outlines a ‘loss of service’ in Hadston.

Although not mentioned in the document, a spokeswoman for the authority said the service in question was the number 20 Arriva bus.

She added that the proposal had been made by Arriva.

The newsletter states that, at this particular time, there would be ‘no alternative options available to the council to reinstate a service’ in Hadston as there is no available budget to subsidise it.

The news has angered East Chevington Parish Council chairman Scott Dickinson.

He said: “Many local people rely on our ever-dwindling bus services to travel to work, shop and for their leisure time and the loss of bus services is a disaster for local communities.

“It will increase isolation in our countryside and it’s the duty of this council to stand up for local communities on vital bus services.”

The newsletter also reveals that the council is in discussion with operator Travelsure about the 472 Amble from Alnwick bus, regarding opportunities to find some running time that could be used to serve the Links Estate in Amble.

One change which has already come into affect is to Arriva’s X18 Berwick to Newcastle bus via Seahouses, Alnwick, Amble and Morpeth.

On Mondays to Fridays the bus at 6.47am from Alnwick to Newcastle will start 10 minutes earlier, at 6.37am, improving the connection with a train at Alnmouth, and allowing extra running-time into Newcastle to arrive at Haymarket bus station at 8.51am.

The newsletter states that Arriva is due to give a detailed presentation on changes they intend to introduce to local bus services in late January. The company will be present at the north area committee meeting on January 14 at 6pm. The location is still to be confirmed.

The county council spokeswoman said the authority was examining what impact the changes would have on affected communities, adding: “The council is examining if it would be possible to extend service 472 to Links Estate on its arrival in Amble from Alnwick.

“This will be dependent on saving time elsewhere on service 472 and may not be possible if detrimental to existing passengers.

“There are no other cost-effective options available to the council either for Links Estate or to replace the changes at Hadston.

“In such circumstances, passengers and the communities are asked to consider using voluntary car schemes or community transport schemes where these may be a viable alternative.”