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Bus users protest against axe facing ‘vital’ services
11:00am Monday 16th December 2013 in News
OUTRAGED bus users are fighting back against plans to axe funding for vital bus services.
People in Upton-upon-Severn fear the “disastrous” move will leave people stranded and could even spark an exodus from the area, and are petitioning Worcestershire County Council to scrap the idea before it is too late.
A petition has already gathered hundreds of names in less than a week.
Former town councillor Pat Martin, who recently retired from the council at the age of 81, is one of the people behind the petition.
“The feedback has been pretty strong. People are absolutely appalled,” she said. “How ridiculous can it be. They are essential. They are now taking away things that people need to live.
“During the war we had nothing but at least they didn’t take our buses off us.”
Mrs Martin, who does not drive, warned: “Not everyone has a car. Schoolchildren and old people rely on the bus. We cannot all afford taxis and we cannot all walk.
“Several people have already told me that if this happens they will move. It is very worrying. Our plea is simple – don’t isolate us.”
As your Malvern Gazette has reported, the county council is considering scrapping a £3 million taxpayers’ subsidy for public transport as it explores ways to save £98 million by 2017.
A total of 88 services are currently subsidised, including the 41-43 and 362-364 services that carry more than 330,000 people a year between Upton, Malvern and Worcester.
Mary Lismore, another former town councillor, who lives in Welland Road, said: “It is going to be disastrous here. There are people near me who rely on the buses even to do their shopping.
“Everyone will be affected but particularly the elderly and the young who really rely on the buses.”
They have circulated the petition around shops and public buildings in Upton and plan to collect it after Christmas and hand it over to the council before the end of a public consultation on January 17.
Traders are also throwing their support behind the cause, warning they will be hit hard if people are cut off from reaching them.
Upton Tourism and Trade Association member Lorraine King, of Kings Studios in Old Street, said: “We are right behind trying to stop this. It will have a direct effect on the town and all our businesses.”
Councillor John Smith, county council cabinet members for highways, has warned “tough decisions have to be made” because of the financial challenges being faced. But he said no final decisions have been made and is urging people to make their feelings known.
“People in specific areas such as Upton-upon-Severn will see subsidised routes on the consultation list that may affect them,” he said. “The most important action for anyone who has a view or thinks they may be affected is to take part in the consultation and have their say.
“It’s also important to remember more than 85 per cent of bus services are run commercially and won't be affected.”
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