Campaigners across Pendle are claiming victory in the battle to keep buses on the borough’s routes.
A number of vital village and town subsidised bus services which faced being stopped altogether will continue to pick up and drop off after an under pressure Lancashire County Council agreed to save 28 of the county’s routes with £2m. of funding.
The county council had been due to withdraw funding from all 113 subsidised routes from April.
Bus companies have decided to operate 40 of these routes on a commercial basis, though, which means that 68 of the 113 routes will continue from Monday, April 3rd on a full or partial basis.
The only Pendle route continuing completely is the Barnoldswick town service which will be operated by Pilkington’s on a commercial basis.
Five other services which serve people in Pendle will continue partially. These are:
l The No. 2 Burnley, Hospital, Nelson and Higherford service. Transdev will continue to operate the evening journeys up to approximately 8pm and Sunday. However, developer funding still exists to maintain evening and Sunday service on the Nelson and Higherford section only and discussions are ongoing.
l The No. 7/7A/7B Clitheroe, Waddington, Chatburn, Nelson service. Service 7/7A will run from Monday to Saturday daytime between Clitheroe and Waddington, Grindleton and Chatburn, alternately serving Sawley or Downham every two hours to maintain extension through to Nelson. Rimington, Newchurch and Spenbrook will no longer be served.
l The No. 65 Nelson, Fence, Higham, Padiham, Burnley and Clifton Farm service. The service is to be split with reduced frequency on sections through Higham and Fence. Burnley to Clifton Farm/Rose Hill will be maintained on an hourly basis. Carr Hall/Lomeshaye in Nelson and Chatburn Park in Brierfield will be maintained as an off-peak two-hourly service operated as Services 8 and 9.
l The No. 95/95A Colne, Marsden Park, Nelson, Hospital and Burnley service. The service will be reduced in frequency from half-hourly to hourly. Monday to Saturday daytime service route from Burnley via Lower Manor, Hospital, Nelson, Marsden Park, Boundary Mill, Colne. A loop has been included in Colne to serve South Valley Drive and further developer funding due for Colne section of route to serve Boundary Mill Garden Centre to assist costs.
l The 180/280/X80 Skipton, Barnoldswick, Gisburn, Clitheroe, Whalley, Preston service. The service is revised with a two vehicle operation to run generally every two hours Monday to Saturday daytime only with the route between Clitheroe and Skipton standardised through Barnoldswick.
While Barnoldswick has lost its No. 29 Monday to Saturday evening service, County Coun. David Whipp, who was on the bus working group set up by the county council in response to public outcry, is optimistic of even an improved service going forward.
He said: “The Preston/Skipton 280 service, which travels through Barnoldswick, has been included in the services continuing to be subsidised by the county council. However, due to contractual reasons, awarding a contract for the route will be delayed for a few days. It’s possible that a bus operator will provide an enhanced service to the one in the county council contract.
“The only other subsidised service affected by the cuts in West Craven is the last journey on Transdev’s Mainline 28/29 Service. Transdev has given notice of major improvements to its X43 service – extending the route on a half hourly basis through to Skipton.
“Together with colleagues, I’m pressing for an adequate level of services during the evening. As details of the new service become available, including the impact on the 28/29 service, I’ll let people know.
“Overall, this is very good news on bus services in our area. As details of the new Skipton journeys become available, it’s likely that we’ll see better bus services and it’s good news that Pilkington’s will continue to run the town bus in Barnoldswick.
“It’s been a busy few months trying to keep good public transport services; fingers crossed, it’s all been worthwhile.”
Colne campaigner Nathan McCollum is delighted that the No. 95 is continuing. He said: “When I heard the bus was going to be withdrawn I wanted to do something about it.
“I use the bus to get to and from college and I know lots of elderly people use it as their only means of transport to get into Colne town centre.
“I contacted Coun. Joe Cooney to ask for help and we decided to start a petition.
“The bus company, Holmeswood, were great they allowed us to put a copy of the petition on every bus.
“In just a couple of weeks we managed to get over 630 people to sign it. I’m sure if we didn’t launch the campaign the service would have been cut so I’m really pleased that we have been able to make a difference.”
Coun. Tony Greaves, who compiled a submission to save the buses on behalf of Pendle Council, said: “This is a bit better than we suggested, and it’s a lot better than we feared when the county council leadership said they intended to scrap all their support for local bus services like this.
“The proposed service will run hourly from before breakfast to the early evening rather than half hourly as now. The cut in frequency is disappointing but it is a lot better than nothing and it will continue to provide an essential lifeline for many older people and others without cars in Colne and Nelson.”
In Fence, Coun. Brian Newman is also relieved. He said: “When the ruling Labour group at Lancashire County Council said they would end all bus subsidies we feared the worst.
“But the much smaller amount voted to support local bus services by the full county council gave us hope. We said we wanted to see a basic service kept in the mornings and afternoons and that is what is now being proposed even though it’s reduced to every two hours.
“This is good news for the older people and others in Fence who have not got their own cars. I want to thank my colleagues at Pendle Council and on the county council who worked on these proposals, particularly Coun. David Whipp who is the local member of the county council bus working group.
“These services are subject to confirmation by that group at its meeting on Tuesday but we are confident that the service 65 plans will be approved for the coming 12 months. If we have to fight the battle again in future we will do so!”