Frustration continues over bus service review

A PLEA to divert a bus route to stop elderly and disabled residents being ‘isolated’ is being ‘kept under review’ – but a frustrated councillor has said this is not enough.

Last week, the Gazette reported that Amble town and county councillor Robert Arckless was still waiting for a response from Northumberland County Council to suggestions made to improve bus links in Amble.

One of the proposals was to extend the 472 service to incorporate the Links/Radcliffe estate, or to create another link for residents there.

Coun Arckless has said that the withdrawal of the 420 service – a long-established route giving good access to Amble town centre and other services – had left residents in this area, many of which are disabled or elderly, isolated.

However, after our article last week, the county council’s transport support manager, Ian Coe, provided a response to Coun Arckless via email.

Mr Coe said he was concerned to hear of Coun Arckless’ comments and apologised for ‘any lack of response’ in respect to the 472 service.

He added: “Service 472 was retendered recently and regrettably the timetable does not allow for this diversion without depriving someone else of a service.

“However, I can assure you that we will keep this under review in case an opportunity to divert the 472 as requested does arise in the future.”

However, Coun Arckless has said this is not enough.

In a reply to Mr Coe, Coun Arckless said: “I am very disappointed to hear this, although not altogether surprised.

“It seems to me that the operators are dictating the level of services and we have very little influence, other than financial, and that is becoming weaker because of the budget pressures.

“I am pleased to note, at least, an attempt to connect the Blyth bus which runs on to the estate with the Alnwick bus which now leaves slightly later, rather than at the exact time that the Blyth bus arrives at the Fourways, so that is some progress.

“However, I do not think that is an adequate response to the real concerns of a group of elderly and disabled residents who feel very aggrieved that the loss of the old 420 services have left them significantly disadvantaged.”