Villages to be cut off as last bus axed

David Rixon at the bus shelter in Newton On The Moor.
David Rixon at the bus shelter in Newton On The Moor.

TWO villages which had all but one of their bus services stopped will be completely cut off from April.

In January, Arriva services, including those subsidised by Northumberland County Council, were leaving out Newton on the Moor and Swarland from their journeys as part of cost-cutting plans.

This left just one service for the villages, the 813 on a Thursday, run by Rothbury Motors, which goes from Holystone or Rothbury to Alnwick via Harbottle, Netherton, Snitter, Thropton, Rothbury, Longframlington, Swarland and Newton on the Moor.

However, the county council has now put a stop to that as well.

In a letter to parish councils, Ian Coe, transport support manager at the county council, said that the service went out to tender but those received were ‘so expensive that they do not offer value for money’. Therefore, it will be halted.

Chairman of Newton on the Moor and Swarland Parish Council Coun David Rixon, who has been trying to fight for better public transport in the parish, said: “It is ridiculous.

“It just shows again that they are totally abandoning the north area. I just can’t understand what they are playing at.

“It won’t just have an effect on the villages from which the services are being withdrawn.

“It will have a big effect on Alnwick as there will be fewer people going there for shopping.

“Young people won’t be able to go to work or college either.

“They can’t use cars because insurance premiums are so high, so they are stuck.

“We, as a parish council, have put a bit of funding aside so we are going to have to see if we can get together with other councils to try to pay for it ourselves. Therefore, we are going to have to pay even more because the county council is withdrawing services.”

County councillor Trevor Thorne, ward member for Shilbottle, raised the issue at the county council’s north area committee meeting on Monday night.

Branding it a ‘terrible situation’, he said: “People can’t get to work, students can’t access higher education. It is a really difficult position.

“There have been meetings and Ian Coe has been good but we are in a situation where two villages are completely without any public transport.”

In his letter Mr Coe said: “I am, however, keen to explore possible ways of maintaining some level of service to those communities concerned who would like to work with the county council.

“Retaining the existing Thursday service in its current form would require parish the parishes concerned to contribute £6,000 year between them.”

But he said this may be ‘beyond’ the combined resources of the parish councils however he is keen to explore alternative ways of providing a service.

l Letters – Page 10