Demise of rural buses

THE relentless reduction of services in the rural areas of Northumberland is continuing.

Earlier this month, parish councils were informed by the transport department at County Hall, that the 813 bus service would be withdrawn in April.

This service operates between Holystone or Rothbury to Alnwick via Harbottle, Alwinton, Netherton, Snitter, Thropton, Rothbury, Longframlington, Swarland and Newton on the Moor.

In several areas this means all bus services have been withdrawn in the space of four months, leaving villagers abandoned.

What are the consequences of these actions? The elderly obviously cannot go shopping or visit medical facilities and young parents, without their own transport, are cut off from pre-school facilities.

Young people in the 18-24 age group, who wish to work or follow an apprenticeship, are unable to use their own transport when faced with insurance premiums of £2,000 minimum and are forced to be unemployed.

Those who do have internet broadband provision can order their food and other goods online, but they are denied the right to enter a real shop. They are faced with total isolation from the market towns.

What is the effect of this on Alnwick?

Already trade has been badly hit by two bad winters and the year-long closure of the A1.

With the enforced reduction in the number of people visiting from the villages, more closures are inevitable.

It is time the Liberal Democrat Executive woke up and realised this cannot continue.

At the root of this problem is money. Funds can be found for the £8.5million northern Morpeth relief road and the new £20million Ashington Sports Centre, but not for providing an essential service to people living in the north of the county.

The county administration must act now, before the rural areas and market towns die.

David Rixon,

Chairman of Newton on the Moor and Swarland Parish Council