Parish plans bus backlash

ANGRY councillors are launching a backlash against proposals to reduce their already dwindling bus service, the Gazette has been told.

Bus routes in the county are under re-organisation and while quicker services to Alnwick are on the agenda, the proposals include reducing diversions via Swarland and Newton on the Moor.

At last Newton on the Moor and Swarland Parish Council members were outraged at the plans after fighting for months to get more services in their parish.

And concern was raised they haven’t had a fair bite at the cherry to see if a service would be used properly because roadworks on the A1 but paid to it.

Chairman of the council, Coun David Rixon, said: “I think it is disgusting.

“The problem is that we haven’t had a fair go at it. The 406 service started the same week that we had all the disruption on the A1.

“The bus didn’t run for three or four days and then when it did come back the bus drivers were saying not to rely on them taking passengers back. Nobody knew whether they were going to be running or not.

“It was total and utter chaos. One passenger caught the bus to Alnwick and was going to get the 1.15pm service back. But the driver said he was leaving at 12.45pm. She got back to the bus and got on and just before it was about to go someone came on and said where are you going, he said he was going at 12.45pm but then stayed till 1.15pm and when he left the bus was virtually full.

“They seem to be changing the time as they feel like it.

“It is not totally the bus service’s problem. The Highways Agency did what they did and nobody knew what was happening. If we are going to have a service trialled the least we can expect is six months to try it out.”

He added that if bus drivers continue to leave earlier than the timetable states then it will seem as though no one is using the service.

Coun David Pettifer said: “We only get a few buses anyway so if they reduce the service we will have none and people rely on it.

“I know they aren’t used by everybody but it is a good service. It isn’t going to be used everyday by lots of people but it does give people the option.”

The parish council is going to write to Northumberland County Council and Arriva as well as MP Sir Alan Beith about their concerns.

l Parish council round-up, Page 9