‘They can’t take our bus away. We need it.’

Parking congestion around Glendale Middle school in Wooler on Saturday mornings when the Glendale Junior Football League matches are being played.
Parking congestion around Glendale Middle school in Wooler on Saturday mornings when the Glendale Junior Football League matches are being played.

Councillors in Wooler are against the axing of a bus service to Alnwick, pointing out that a better timetable could boost usage.

Northumberland County Council is reviewing the supported bus services where the average subsidy per passenger approaches or is greater than £5.

And the 470 service from Wooler to Alnwick via Chatton and Eglingham with operator Glen Valley on weekdays in the school holidays and Saturdays is under threat, specifically the buses leaving Wooler at 8am and 2.45pm, and the return from Alnwick at 3.45pm.

The same route run by Travelsure for the school run during term-time would not be affected.

According to the figures, the holiday and Saturday service currently costs the county council £8.41 per passenger, and an annual sum of more than £35,000.

But in a move that defied logic to members at Monday night’s parish council meeting, the early bus would still travel to Alnwick as the return journey would remain.

Coun Robert Donkin said: “They still have to send the bus to Alnwick because they are still going to do the journey back.

“It seems silly because they are sending a vehicle there anyway.”

He also pointed out that the timetable was not practical as it stands, as Chatton residents only have 15 minutes in town before they have to get the bus back.

Coun Alan Robertson said: “If they could get the timetables tweaked, then more people could use the bus.”

The clerk is to contact Glen Valley to ask if they have any suggestions as to how the service could be better timetabled so that it is more widely used.

It was also suggested that the bus drivers flag up the possible changes and the consultation, by displaying it in the buses, to ensure that the passengers who use the service have their say.

Chairman Coun Alfreda Hindmarsh had also spoken to Glen Valley about whether using a smaller vehicle could save money on fuel, but was told that the county council places restrictions on what type of bus can be used in relation to disabled access.

“They can’t take the bus away on Saturday because people need to go to Alnwick to do their shopping,” she said.

Members agreed to respond to the consultation expressing their objections to the service being axed and to suggest that the timetable could be altered to better suit passenger need.