A petition to save rural bus services in Corby has been launched.
The number 67 bus through Gretton made its last trip on May 25 and the RF1 which runs from Corby to Melton came under threat when operator Centrebus said it was not cost-effective.
The launch of the petition follows a lively public meeting at which villagers shared their fears about the loss of bus services because of Northamptonshire County Council subisdy cuts.
The meeting at Cottingham Village Hall, hosted by Beth Miller, Labour Party’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, was attended by more than 30 people, included parish council representatives and villagers who called the county council’s decision ‘devastating’ and ‘unacceptable’.
A plan is now under way to bring together parish councils and villagers across Northamptonshire who are experiencing similar isolation and costly alternatives like taxis.
Parish councillors are in talks to run a pilot scheme to fund a limited service using money from their village-funded budgets. Local authorities including Corby Borough Council and Rutland Council have pledged their support to villagers.
One of the speakers at the meeting was Deputy Leader of Corby Borough Council, Cllr Jean Addison.
Rutland councillors have taken a decision to potentially increase the council’s funding by £220,448 to enable the Rutland Flyer to continue to run. This currently serves villages between Corby and Melton, including
Middleton and Cottingham and is Rutland’s busiest bus routes with more than 120,000 passenger journeys last year.
Corby county councillor Julie Brookfield and fellow Labour county councillors who are working closely with Beth, said: “Since 2015 the 67 bus has been under threat. Labour councillors have worked hard to maintain at least some bus journeys on this route to enable those needing to travel to work or attend health appointments. We continue to challenge the cuts to these vital services.”
After the meeting, Beth launched a petition which calls on the seven Northamptonshire MPs and the Government to save our buses.
Beth said: “It is unbelievable that a growing village like Gretton, which is just six miles from Corby, has lost so many services. This is complete mismanagement by county councillors who are meant to represent their
“There were some extremely positive ideas suggested at the meeting. We felt it was important to give villagers, whatever their political persuasion, an opportunity to make their voices heard.”
Rural transport is not the only service under threat. The proposed changes to the Urgent Care Centre in Corby mean that many villagers not registered with a GP in the borough will be unable to use the service. This means, for example, villagers in Gretton, who use the GP services at Uppingham, will not be able to use an emergency health centre which is just six miles away from their homes.
Beth, who was once a regular passenger on the Flyer, said: “It is about time we start to value our rural communities and ensure services are available to preserve this way of life.
“The decision makers at Northamptonshire County Council should recognise the impact the decisions to cut the services has on individuals. We heard stories about villagers no longer being able to visit their grand-children, difficulties attending GP appointments and a charity shop worker who will have to quit because she can longer catch a bus to and from work.
“Northamptonshire county councillors, who backed the decision, should take a long, hard look at what this means to the people they are meant to represent.
What are the students, pensioners and those people who rely on this service to get to and from work meant to do?”
The petitions is available here