ONCE again, the rural areas are facing the threat of bus services being withdrawn, despite attempts to soften the blow. At the north area committee we heard that recommendations were made, and agreed, for the county council to pay more subsidy per passenger for longer journeys than those on short ones.
That makes sense and would take into account the wide range of journeys to which Northumberland County Council contribute.
So why, when a review of services is made, is there a flat, low, figure for everywhere? We live in one of the biggest counties in the country. Yes, we have urban areas, but a vast proportion of Northumberland is rural with residents having little or sometimes no access to essential services like doctors, dentists and local shops.
It is these areas that desperately need and rely on public transport, even if services are only once a week.
We also have an aging population, some of whom don’t want to move from the rural village in which they have lived all their life, but still want to be able to get into town to do their weekly shopping. And why shouldn’t they be able to?
The county council needs to take a long, hard look at how cutting services will affect those who use them.
And whoever was responsible for changing the subsidy rate needs to put his or her hands up and answer one simple question – why?
Too often rural areas are ignored. We have to take a stand and make sure they get the same treatment as urban centres.