Lessons learnt from bus petition

A COUNCILLOR hopes that lessons can be learned from a recent petition over bus services.

The 472 service, which covers Shilbottle and Alnwick town centre, was previously run by Arriva, but when it withdrew Seahouses-based Travelsure took over the contract for a year.

However, a tender was put out earlier this year with Arriva winning back the service.

Residents and the parish council in Shilbottle were up in arms about the company taking over the service and launched a petition which gathered close to 1,000 names.

Arriva North East then decided not to go ahead with the contract and Travelsure were given it back.

At last Thursday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s north area committee, members were told that the petition no longer needed to be followed up as Arriva had dropped out.

Local member Coun Trevor Thorne said: “Mrs Haddow, the parish council and the people of Shilbottle are delighted with the outcome of this petition and I do believe it was influential in achieving the outcome.”

Coun Gordon Castle, recognising residents’ support in Alnwick and Shilbottle for Travelsure, said: “Small companies seem to be up against it bidding against larger companies when they are demonstrably providing a better service.

“I hope as a result of this smaller providers can receive assistance from the council, without breaking the rules, so they know what we are looking for as part of the procurement process.”

But Coun Isabel Hunter, executive member for infrastructure, said: “We do try our best to bring in local contractors but we can only give so much advice.”