Residents vow to fight to keep bus service lifeline

Malvern Gazette: TOUGH DECISIONS: John Smith urged people to give their views on bus plans. TOUGH DECISIONS: John Smith urged people to give their views on bus plans.

A CONCERNED community is gearing up for a fight to save its only local bus service.

People in West Malvern say losing their bus, which passes through the village every two hours, would leave many residents stranded and could even spark a mass exodus from the area.

The 675 service running through West Malvern on its route from Great Malvern to Ledbury is under threat as Worcestershire County Council considers scrapping a £3 million taxpayers’ subsidy for public transport.

But both passengers and parish councillors say the bus is vital and are urging the county council to consider alternatives.

Residents have put up posters at bus stops warning of the threat and people are being urged to respond to an ongoing consultation on the proposed cuts before it is too late.

Diane Hurfurt, aged 54, of Noble View, said: “This is very serious for people in West Malvern who rely on the bus. It would mean anyone who lives here and does not have a car would be stranded.

“It could leave people isolated.

We do not have the sort of facilities where you could do a weekly shop and a lot of people say they don’t know how they will carry on living here. They are talking about leaving the village.”

She does not believe the county council has fully considered the impact on residents in individual communities. “It just does not seem fair somewhere the size of West Malvern could be left with nothing,” she said.

West Malvern Parish Council is also concerned and debated the matter at its recent meeting.

It will be responding officially to the county council but parish councillor Sarah Rouse said: “I think the feeling from the parish council and our residents is while we understand cuts need to be made, this is a vital service for our residents.

“We would be willing to look at alternative options to keep the service running.

Perhaps a reduction in subsidies and increased fares or other funding o.ptions.”

The county council is urging anyone in Malvern with a view on the proposals to scrap the subsidy to have their say before the consultation ends on January 17.

The council needs to save £98 million by 2017 and Coun John Smith, cabinet member for highways, said: “The financial challenge the council is currently faced with means there has to be tough decisions made on how taxpayers’ money is spent. This issue is such an example.”

He added: “It’s vital we have as much information as possible from the public when it comes to making a final decision on the proposals currently on the table. “ He urged people to have their say on the consultation online at worcestershire.

gov.uk/ busservicereview.

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