Town Council Requests Urgent Review Over Neston Bus Service Cancellation
|Published: 4th June 2018 13:15|
As announced on AboutMyArea on 10 May, Aintree Coaches announced the withdrawal of the 272 bus service between Neston and Ellesmere Port, with effect from 21 July 2018.
272 service - to be axed from July
We have now updated this article to include information from Neston Town Council (below).
The decision will affect a large number of Neston residents, particularly those who rely on the service to get to work, college and leisure facilities in the Ellesmere Port area.
As well as serving bus passengers, the route is the only way for many commuters from Neston to access Hooton railway station, a vital link between the town and the cities of Liverpool and Chester and beyond.
Reacting to the news, Justin Madders, MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, said: "This is an outrageous decision showing a complete lack of regard for the needs of the many people who rely on public transport for their work and education.
"I call on the operator to reconsider as a matter of urgency and for the Government to end the farcical deregulation of bus services that has left too many communities isolated."
Cllr Louise Gittins, Deputy Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council and ward member for Little Neston and Burton, added: "The decision by Aintree coaches to deregister the 272 is extremely disappointing and a blow to residents of Neston, particularly young people who use the service to get to college in the Port.
"I will be working closely with officers at the council to find an alternative solution. In the mean time Justin Madders MP, Cllr Andy Williams and myself will be setting up a petition to send to Aintree Coaches. The petition will be available at our Surgery next Saturday in the Town Hall (10am to 12noon) and on our market stall, which Justin is attending on 1st June."
Cllr Myles Hogg, who represents Willaston at Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: "I shall be working with the Integrated Public Transport Officer of the Council to ascertain the facts as to how many people currently use the service, why they use it and how often they travel on this route.
"We can then determine how best to save this vital bus service for the semi rural communities which use it even if this means partially subsidising the operator to allow it to continue.
"The council has unallocated revenue reserves of up to £6m so why not use a fraction of them to keep this vital service?
"Willaston is poorly served by public transport and the loss of the 272 would be catastrophic for the local residents who rely on it at present. I shall do all I can to ensure it continues to operate."
Neston Town Council (article updated 4.6.2018)
Neston Town Council suspended standing orders at its meeting on 22 May to question Dr Phil Lloyd, the chair of their Transport Working Group, in connection with a report to Council that called on Cheshire West and Chester Council to deliver a better connection to Hooton station at an affordable fare.
They said the cancellation of the service would be a particular blow to the most disadvantaged residents of Neston who would be restricted to the higher fares and sparse rail services from Neston. The commuter fare from Neston to Liverpool and back is £7 compared with just £4.60 from Hooton, and trains are much more frequent from Hooton.
Neston Town Council wants a maximum bus fare of £1 each way to Hooton, so that would still be a cheaper option than travelling from Neston by rail to Liverpool. Dr Lloyd reported that a freedom of information request he had made revealed that Cheshire West and Chester Council make almost £23,000 profit per year from Hooton car park - and that is before they raised the car park charge by 25% in December 2017. The meeting considered that this money should support a better bus connection between Neston and Hooton Station.
Neston Council also wants an urgent meeting between Cheshire West and Chester officials and its own Transport Working Group to consider this and other issues that affect the connectivity of the town. The meeting heard that there have been three petitions since 2015 concerning bus services, rail services and the state of the roads - and each has attracted over 2000 signatures. The council concluded that what is needed now is some tangible action to ensure that Neston, with a population of 15,000, has the same quality of connectivity by rail,
bus and road as comparable towns in the area.
The report and its proposals were unanimously approved by the Council at the annual meeting on 22nd May.
Mayor Pat Kynaston said, "The recent review of the Neighbourhood Plan highlighted the importance of Neston's Public Transport Standard to the progress of the town. Neston Town Council is determined to campaign hard for
improvements - starting with a better link to Hooton Station that opens up faster and cheaper connections with important destinations such as Chester, Liverpool and Ellesmere Port".
Cllr Roberts, Chair of Places Committee, added that "a direct rail links to Liverpool from Neston, without the need to change at Bidston, will be a long term goal of the Town Council".
Mr Phil Lloyd said, "Neston Town Council been making the case for a better link with Hooton for some time because that station has faster services and cheaper fares - benefits that should not be restricted to car owners. The end of the 272 creates an opportunity to provide a new service to Hooton that will attract passengers if it runs at the right times and costs are reasonable. But thanks are also due to Aintree Coaches for operating the 272 without financial support for so long".
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