TWO OF Pershore’s under threat ‘lifeline’ bus services have been saved from cuts but the town’s only Sunday service has been axed as Worcestershire County Council looks to save £1.6million.
Bosses at Worcestershire County Council agreed bus subsidy proposals on Monday (June 9) which saw the town’s popular 566 Plumline service and the 564/565 Wychavon Hopper retained but with a reduced level of service.
Friday and Saturday evening services to and from the town including Evesham were also scrapped by council bosses with all of the changes set to take effect from September.
The reduction of bus routes all over the county follows plans from the county council, announced last year, to reduce its subsidised bus services as it strives to cut its total spending by £25million a year until 2017/18.
But the decision to axe the Sunday 166 service, which stops at both Pershore and Evesham, has been met with strong criticism by residents.
Wendy Branson from Pershore said: “This service is a lifeline to many people. It is a great service for those people who, like myself, live alone, do not drive and want somewhere to go on Sundays.
“The bus is also used by several young people who work either in Stratford or Worcester. They will not be able to work now the service has been removed.”
And Clive Bostle from Evesham called the decision to axe the service ‘regrettable and short-sighted’.
But former Pershore mayor Charles Tucker told the Observer negotiations were already underway in the hope of retaining the service in some shape or form in the long-term.
The proposals led to a public consultation taking place which was responded to by more than 8,000 worried residents. Petitions were also launched in Pershore and surrounding areas to fight against the transport changes.
Pershore MP Harriett Baldwin welcomed the news the Plumline and Wychavon Hopper had been saved.
“The council did the right thing in putting the issue out to consultation and it is clear that they were able to listen to this feedback and talk to the bus companies to try and find a solution,” she said.
“This is clear evidence of the council listening to public feedback and working with the private sector to find a solution which reduces subsidies and keeps council taxes down.”
Should any delay occur implementing the changes it could cost Worcestershire County Council in the region of £500,000 or further reductions being made.
Coun John Smith, responsible for Highways at Worcestershire County Council, told the Observer the remaining subsidised services would now be protected.
“We don’t want to interfere with the bus services in the future unless we absolutely have to,” he said.