Council pledges to act as Corby bus service is withdrawn

Cottingham, which could lose its bus service, after Centrebus withdrew the RF1. NNL-180420-121431005
Cottingham, which could lose its bus service, after Centrebus withdrew the RF1. NNL-180420-121431005

Rural communities in Northamptonshire could again be hit by the withdrawal of a vital bus service that transports villagers around Corby to Rutland and beyond.

The Rutland Flyer RF1 service runs four times per day each way between Corby and Melton Mowbray, serving the villages of Cottingham, Middleton, Caldecott and Great Easton on its way.

It is vital for workers and an increasing number of school pupils who travel to Uppingham Community College from Corby each day.

But now Centrebus Ltd, which runs the service, has issued notice that it intends to end the contract to operate the RF1 service.

People in Corby have reacted angrily to the news on social media.

Lucia Powell said: “This is disgusting! There are so many school children from Corby that use this bus to get to school in Uppingham. How are they supposed to get to school if this stops?”

And Alison Dalziel said: “I think this is tragic. The RF1 serves the villages of Cottingham & Middleton as well as Uppingham, Oakham and the surrounding area. What with other bus cuts some of these villages will be cut off. I know people who rely on this service and it’s just another example of Tory cuts that serve none of us well.”

Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Corby Beth Miller, who herself used the service every day for two years to get to college, said: “It’s really awful that this is happening - it is such a valuable service for people from Corby to Oakham and all the villages inbetween.

“This ultimately all stems from a lack of funding.”

The notice period for local bus contracts is three months and Rutland Council, which commissions and funds the service, says it is already taking steps to find a new provider to continue the service from the end of June 2018 onwards.

Councillor Nick Begy, Rutland Council portfolio holder for transport, said: “Centrebus has made a commercial decision to cease operating the RF1 service from June 2018. We’re aware that a number of operators have been put under pressure by Northamptonshire’s decision to cancel 100 per cent of its local bus subsidies and respect Centrebus’ decision. We are now working hard to secure a new operator and ensure continuation of the RF1 service. Rutland County Council has protected subsidies for local bus services for a number of years, in order that they remain commercially viable for operators. We are already talking with several other bus companies who have already expressed an interest in taking over the RF1 service and have begun the tendering process.”