County Connect Bus Service
|Author: John Riches||Published: 24th October 2017 13:50|
November 2007. Craig White an Accessibility Planning Officer for Northamptonshire County Council and Matt Hammon (driver) a Managing Consultant show-off a new Mercedes Benz mini-bus.
Surely in one of the richest countries in the world – austerity or no austerity – we must look after the most vulnerable in our society?
“Northamptonshire County Council is currently consulting on removing all money paid to subsidise public transport. If this proposal is confirmed ...... the County Connect bus service would end during 2018 and it is likely that many rural parts of the county will have either no or limited public transport.” That is the first paragraph of a letter sent to local users of the County Connect service. The proposals would clearly have a dramatic effect on us here in the villages of the Upper Tove Valley – especially the disabled and those without their own transport. Is our County Council seriously considering leaving these people in the lurch with no alternative provided?
The Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member responsible for transport stated that this policy was being brought forward with a heavy heart. The financial situation is so severe that they are having to make proposals that they really don’t want to make.
When County Connect was first launched it spelled the end of our subsidised weekly service to Banbury and the twice weekly services to Northampton. It was described as an on-demand, no timetable fresh concept designed to take passengers from our local villages to connect with regular bus routes in Towcester, Brackley and elsewhere. Those who use the service are generally very satisfied.
In his 2006 budget, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer provided funds so that from April 1st 2008 those over 60 and disabled people would be able to travel free on any local bus service in England. Anticipating greater bus usage our County Council enthusiastically came up with exciting and imaginative proposals for a regular, frequent daily circular min-bus that would serve Abthorpe, Slapton, Wappenham, Weeon Lois, Helkdon, Weston, Moreton Pinkney, Canons Ashby, Adstone, Maidford, Blakesley, Woodend and Bradden. The luxurious, brand new Mercedes Benz that was to operate the service complete with County Council logos was put on display at the launch in Towcester’s Community Centre. The proposals were subsequently dropped.
Please may we ask our County Council to rethink? Surely in one of the richest countries in the world – austerity or no austerity – we must look after the most vulnerable in our society?