Bus service reprieve

Back in April I wrote about bus route subsidy cuts that Shropshire Council was proposing. I was concerned that Benthall and Broseley Wood might lose the late 8 and that the 436 through Much Wenlock might become an endangered species. The consultation said “we requested that all our bus operators ……. provide details of the level of service that they could provide on each of these services with a reduction in funding.”

I got fairly irritated when I found that Shropshire Council’s Leader, Cllr Peter Nutting, had addressed a meeting in Shrewsbury in mid-April, commenting on the 436 route subsidy, and I invited him to come to Much Wenlock and talk to a public meeting of folk who use the bus. He wasn’t able to do so before the consultation closed.

What he did say in his response me was that the consultation was “largely about how we commission the service not about cutting it”. I think the 119 people who responded to the consultation might have provided slightly different answers if the question had been posed in this manner! Nonetheless, thanks to all who wrote to Shropshire Council, wrote to me, and posted on social media.

Shropshire Council’s Cabinet considered the responses at its meeting on 12th June. I was permitted to address the meeting and said that folk in Broseley, Bridgnorth and Much Wenlock have no alternative public transport, unlike the majority of other Shropshire towns served by rail. The absence of alternative transport is, of course, the reason why the bus company feels fairly comfortable in demanding a large subsidy.

I mentioned the threat to education, employment, the local economy and hospital visits. I said that, in planning job moves, or a college course, folk need to have assurance that the service will be there for the foreseeable future. You can hear what I said in this video clip:

The Shropshire Star captured my parting shot quite well. I believe that we will see changes, but the Council will change service frequency at its peril. Much Wenlock has spoken!