Trial bus will help vulnerable villagers access key services

The Spar in Longhoughton.
The Spar in Longhoughton.

A parish council has agreed to fund a bus for a trial period to help vulnerable members of its community access vital post-office services in a nearby village.

The facility in Longhoughton will close on Wednesday, while the Spar shop in which it is located will shut three days later.

Longhoughton’s Co-operative store is investigating the possibility of taking on the Post Office, but nothing has been confirmed. Even if this does go through, it is anticipated that the village will be without a facility until the autumn.

So, at Monday night’s parish council meeting, it was agreed to pay for the cost of a seven-seater bus, set to be provided by NEED Ltd, for a month’s trial period. The morning service would take residents to Lesbury Post Office once a week, on a day and time to be confirmed.

Council chairman Bryan Ellis said he had some names of people who needed to use it. He said: “This is for people who are very vulnerable – who genuinely need it and can’t make other arrangements. We will trial it for a month. If it is used, we will continue it, if it isn’t, we will discontinue it.”

Coun Eleanor Phillips said the closure highlighted the need for people to be neighbourly and encouraged villagers to think about any neighbours in need.

The closure comes after the Spar’s parent company, ISS, decided it was no longer viable.

The building is owned by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and leased to ISS and hairdressers Haircrew.

Simon Buist, from RAF Boulmer, said that the DIO’s intention is to put it on the market as soon as possible, but would look favourably on a company or organisation which intended to provide a service for the community.

He added that, following the closure, the Post Office will still collect from the post box at the front of the site and the hairdressers will remain.