THE community of West Malvern is rallying round to try and ensure its local bus service does not become a casualty of the £3 million programme of cuts proposed by Worcestershire County Council.

The 675 Malvern-Ledbury service which passes through the village has been listed as at risk.

The issue was discussed at length at Monday’s meeting of the Parish Council, at which several members of the public were present as well as district councillors Julian Roskams and John Raine, who is also a county councillor.

The meeting heard that no reply had yet been received to a Freedom of Information request regarding the current cost of the subsidy to the service.

There was strong feeling that most bus users would be willing, if need be, to pay higher fares rather than see the service withdrawn, and that free pass holders might equally be prepared to waive their concessions if that would help to keep the service viable.

It was also suggested withdrawal of the service could drive people away from shopping locally to shopping on-line, to the detriment of local businesses. Sponsorship by local stores was suggested as a another possibility to help maintain a viable service.

It was pointed out that the new tighter parking enforcement and higher fines in Malvern made using the bus more attractive, while the alternative to a bus fare of £1.10 to £2 for a single trip compared favourably with the alternative at least £5 for a taxi if the service were withdrawn.

It was felt that the service, passing as it does through one of the most attractive parts of the Malvern Hills, should be better publicised to visitors by the Tourist Office.

An action programme was agreed, which will include a house-to-house leaflet drop in the village, drawing attention to the threat to the service, encouraging people to make more use of buses, and to respond to the WCC consultation on the proposals, which will close on January 17.

the Parish Council will respond on behalf of the community, but urges individuals also to make their views known.

If you have a view you can make it known by replying to the questionnaire on transport-and-highways/ transport-review.aspx. Hard copies are also available on the buses themselves and around the village.

For the second year, residents are being invited to decorate our beautifully restored gas lamps for Christmas. Only a few were decorated last year so it is hoped more people will take part this year. Choose a lamp, decorate it as you wish (plenty room for originality), notify John Raine (01684 565052 or j.w.raine@bham. by Christmas Eve of the number on the lamp you have decorated.

The judging panel will be touring the village on Boxing Day to decide this year’s winner.

COLIN JACKSON 01684 577604