'Furious' campaigners vow to fight on after Long Lawford bus petition rejected - The Rugby Observer

'Furious' campaigners vow to fight on after Long Lawford bus petition rejected

Rugby Editorial 16th May, 2019   0

‘FURIOUS’ campaigners have vowed to continue their fight to reinstate a bus service through the heart of Long Lawford after their 516-signature petition was rejected by bus operator Stagecoach.

The petition’s call to bring buses back to parts of the village on the old 3A route, which was cancelled in January due to falling passenger numbers, was rejected by Stagecoach as not being ‘a commercial proposition’, adding the request would need to be considered by Warwickshire County Council (WCC) which ‘deals with socially necessary services’.

Long Lawford resident and petition organiser Pete McLaren says elderly and infirm people living along the old route have been ‘stranded’ because they are unable to walk the extra distance to the bus stops on the remaining 86 route.

The Rugby Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) spokesman said the petition has now been forwarded to WCC calling for its intervention.

He said: “We are more than just disappointed, we are furious.

“Stagecoach have not considered our request seriously. Are they happy that elderly and infirm residents are no longer able to get a bus into Rugby because they are not able to walk a considerable distance further to a bus stop?

“Stagecoach admitted the decision was a commercial one – that is a dreadful admittance which sums up all the negative aspects around privatising public services. A public service should be exactly that. As soon as the profit motive is introduced, it stops being that, and that means people suffer.”

He said he hoped WCC would fund a re-instated bus route, adding: “WCC has subsidised other local bus routes otherwise faced with closure, and we hope they will agree to do the same in our case.”

When the campaign was launched in March, a WCC spokesman said: “The 86 is still deemed to provide an acceptable level of service. Any passengers that used to catch the 3A can still catch the 86 by accessing the nearest bus stop.

“Should this petition be received by WCC, it will be reviewed within published guidelines.”

While supporting the petition, WCC’s representative for Earl Craven ward Coun Heather Timms also backed an expansion of the Back & 4th Dial-a-Ride service, launched by Warwickshire Rural Community Council in February.

The WCC-subsidised service, which collects passengers from home and takes them to their chosen destination, runs through Long Lawford on Tuesdays.

She said: “It’s ideal for older residents. It’s door-to-door, and they can use their bus pass, so it’s free.

“The more people who use it, the more WCC will be willing to subsidise it.”

But Mr McLaren said it was “nowhere near the same as a full bus service”.

Visit www.wrccrural.org.uk/services/back-4th or call 01788 226000 (Monday-Friday, 10am-3pm) for more information on the Dial-a-Ride service.

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