Bus Services after the Spending Review - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from Mr and Mrs Banks BUS (110)


We are writing to you as residents of Elwick Village which is approximately 4 miles from Hartlepool in the North East of England. We understand from our local MP, Iain Wright that you are currently seeking evidence of the effects which cuts in public subsidies have had on bus services and, therefore, on local communities. The answer is significant.

As part of its arrangements to reduce spending, Hartlepool Borough Council took a unilateral decision to end all subsidy for bus services within the Borough irrespective of the different effects it would have on the residents. Elwick is a community of some 600 people which, in keeping with many other similar communities, has an increasingly aging population. It has a sheltered housing scheme which, by definition, is populated by older, often more infirm residents, a significant proportion of whom were, and still are, dependent on public transport. We are aware personally of a number of elderly widows who used to rely on their husbands to drive them and who became dependent on the bus service. Many of these people are pensioners in receipt of state pension who simply cannot afford the £10 return taxi fare but need to go to town to access essential services. Apart from a small village shop, we do not have any services in or near the village such as doctors or dentists. Consequently transport to and from these essential services is vital.

What has so dismayed the village is the arbitrary way in which the local authority totally withdrew its subsidy without, it seems, any consideration of the effects such a decision would have. It then had the audacity to blame the whole problem on "greedy bus companies" and seemed incapable of coming up with any viable options. We all accept that it would have been impossible, given the extent of spending reductions, to maintain the previous service, nor would we necessarily want that. However, the provision of a skeleton service on, say three days a week with one return bus in the morning and afternoon would at least have given those vulnerable people in the village an affordable means of accessing services so many take for granted. As of 26 March we have nothing!

April 2011

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