A village bus service that started operating after widespread transport cuts by Northamptonshire County Council threatened isolation for some villagers is set for further financial backing to keep it running.
The Welland Wanderer, which shuttles passengers between Corby, Market Habrorough and nearby and surrounding villages, was started two years ago in the wake of the 2018 cuts to public transport services which saw a number of popular bus routes across the county ended.
It was funded by Kettering and Corby Council with some contributions from nearby parish councils and in the first year 2,400 passengers used the service which runs west every Tuesday from Gretton to Market Harborough and east every Friday from Stoke Albany to Corby via Gretton.
Corby Council committed earlier this year to put up £2,600 funding this financial year on the condition that Kettering Council does the same.
The authority’s executive will make a decision at its meeting next Wednesday (July 8).
The report says: “The service provides a vital link for residents who do not drive and who cannot afford regular taxi trips. Many of the users are older people and the vast majority have a bus pass.
“The service has been coordinated and led by Wilbarston Parish Council and members may wish to acknowledge the work that has been put in by the community, led by Nick Richards of Wilbarston Parish Council to keep it going.
“Projecting forward into the next year, the organisers calculate that they need a net £7,800 to run the service for the next twelve months. They have proposed that this is met by continued funding from the parishes, and both Corby and Kettering Councils.
“When the borough council provided its funding in 2019/20, it was on the basis that this was one off funding. This was to avoid a conflict with the financial golden rules which prevent the council back-filling a service previously provided by another agency which has withdrawn its funding. At the time, it was thought that the service could function through to the start date of the unitary authority in 2020, but this clearly is no longer true, given the start date is 2021.”
The report also talks of a similar service in the pipeline for villages near Rothwell and which would be run by Rothwell Town Council. Kettering Council has indicated informally it will support this new service.