SAVE OUR BUSES: Kettering Council ‘considering’ funding rural service

The route stopped in May.
The route stopped in May.

A bid to re-instate a rural bus service has taken a new turn after Kettering Council declared they were considering part-funding it.

The number 67 bus from Corby to Market Harborough stopped running in May after Northamptonshire County Council pulled the funding.

Corby Council postponed a decision on funding it last week.

Parish councils in Wilbarston, Stoke Albany, Ashley, Weston by Welland and Sutton Bassett - all of which are in the Kettering borough - wrote to Kettering Council asking them to stump up half of the £6,000 needed to replace the service on a pilot project.

Chairman of Wilbarston Parish Council Nick Richards, on behalf of the combined parishes, said: “Based on feedback to the various parish councils there will be sufficient demand to consider a future service using a larger vehicle, which will either be commercially viable or at least will require only a limited subsidy which the parishes could address.

“If that does not prove to be the case the scheme will not continue beyond March 2019.

“Please support this pilot scheme to help us assess the way forward.”

A Kettering Council spokesman said: “Kettering Council are aware of the request for funding from Wilbarston Parish Council and its neighbouring parishes and are considering funding the pilot project for one year to March 2019.”

The intention is to run the service on a Tuesday from Corby to Market Harborough via Gretton, Rockingham, Cottingham, Middleton, East Carlton, Wilbarston, Stoke Albany, Ashley, Weston by Welland and Sutton Bassett.

It would then retrace the route to Corby after a minimum of two hours in Market Harborough.

On a Thursday the route would operate in reverse, starting from and returning to Market Harborough with a stopover in Corby.

It would run from July 23, 2018, to March 31, 2019.

The £6,000 bill would be split between Corby and Kettering Council as passenger numbers likely to be evenly split between the two areas because of demand from Wilbarston.

At the Corby Council meeting last week deputy leader Jean Addison said: “Because we are a listening council we do go out and consult with residents and we do not want to block things.

“I hope there is a way forward.”

An online petition has attracted the support of more than 1,500 people and a paper petition circulated around the villages has also collected more than 200 signatures.