Bus campaigners warning over further cutbacks after county's failure to secure Government cash - The Evesham Observer

Bus campaigners warning over further cutbacks after county's failure to secure Government cash

Evesham Editorial 22nd Apr, 2022   0

FURTHER cutbacks in already threadbare county bus services are inevitable without additional central government funding, a local public transport pressure group has claimed.

The warning comes from the Vale Public Transport Group (VPTG) following the failure of Worcestershire County Council’s bid for £84million in central government funding for its ailing public transport network.

High hopes for funding via its Bus Service Improvement Plan – part of the government’s “Bus Back Better” project – have been dashed as “lacking in ambition” whilst other Midlands such as West Midlands has been awarded funding of £87.9million, with Stoke-on-Trent granted £31.7million and Derbyshire £47million.

First Midland Red is already reviewing its remaining routes in the county following the news and a drop of 30 per cent in passengers, not as yet made up, associated with the Covid pandemic.

“Much had been invested in the county council’s now failed plans for the future of the bus service network after years of rundown, neglect and continuing cutbacks by the council, particularly hitting the south of the county, said VPTG chairman Julian Palfrey.

“As a result large villages such as Eckington, Defford and central Drakes Broughton have lost their daily buses and a village the size of Fladbury is almost completely isolated except on schooldays – as are other Vale villages.

“Meanwhile the massive potential for better bus/rail connections and interchange facilities at both Evesham and Pershore to match improved hourly – or better – services on the Cotswold Line has been totally ignored as has any additional provision for the major and continuing development of up to 400 homes in northern Pershore, near the station.

“It is now up to the County Council working with the government to live up to promises made in the “Bus Back Better” programme and ensure that “levelling up” does not only apply to urban areas such as the West Midlands but also to rural areas suffering growing social isolation and where needs such as for work and education journeys – are often far greater,” he added.

In response, a statement from Worcestershire County Council said: “Our transport highways officers have been liaising with neighbouring local authorities, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire, Herefordshire, Warwickshire and Shropshire, who, as well as ourselves, have sadly also missed out on Bus Service Improvement Plan funding on this occasion.

“We are continuing to liaise with the neighbouring local authorities regarding how best to take this forward. We will be contacting the Department for Transport for further clarity as to why the county was unsuccessful in its funding application.”


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