Review of a number of bus services in county’s north

An Arriva bus in Amble.
An Arriva bus in Amble.

A review of subsidised bus services in the north of the county has been launched by the council, as the budget faces cuts of 13 per cent.

Most of Northumberland County Council’s contracts with bus providers for local services north of Amble and Alnwick are due to expire in April next year.

New contracts will be tendered in the autumn to start in April 2015 and run for an expected five years, so a consultation has been launched as part of a review of certain services.

It comes amid major cuts to the county council’s budget, which will see a 13 per cent reduction in the budget available to support local buses in 2014/15.

The level of service provided from April 2015 will be determined by several factors, including the current level of use, changes in the locality which may affect journey patterns and value for money – the aim is that most services must not cost more than £6 per passenger to subsidise.

Two of the services in the review have sparked petitions when threatened in recent times – the 471 from Amble Links Estate into the town centre and the 710 Kelso to Newcastle service which connects Wooler and other villages in Glendale with the city on Saturdays.

Among the other services in the review are several that connect Wooler with Alnwick, such as the 470 via Eglingham at off-peak times and on Saturdays and the 473 via Powburn during the same periods.

Some of Wooler’s connections with Berwick – the 267/857 via Milfield (off-peak and Saturdays) and the 464 via Lowick (off-peak and Saturdays) – are also included.

The 477 Perryman’s journeys from Berwick to Holy Island are being looked at too.

A number of specific subsidised aspects of Arriva’s X15 and X18 services are listed for review, including three Sunday return services between Alnwick and Berwick.

Also included are the X18 between Alnwick and Bamburgh on mornings between November and March, links with Craster on Saturdays and during school holidays and to Amble on Sundays during the winter.

The consultation period ends on Friday, May 30, and parish and town councils are being contacted to share their views.

l Two services will not be operating this summer due to the reduced funding having to be diverted elsewhere.

They are both links with Gateshead/Newcastle on Sundays – the 508 to Rothbury and the 714 to Kielder.