A CHERISHED bus route will still be scrapped, despite calls for the move to be put on hold to allow consultation.
Northumberland County Council has said that it will be pressing ahead with the removal of the service which runs through the county to Newcastle and the Metrocentre, on a Saturday.
One of the authority’s own members had called on the council to give the route a reprieve, to give people in affected communities the chance to make their voices heard.
Last night, a parish council which created a petition to save the service voiced its disappointment over the county’s stance but vowed to fight on.
As previously reported by The Journal, the authority pays towards the cost of the 710 return service, operated by Glen Valley Tours, between Kelso and the Metrocentre.
The council, it has now emerged, is contributing £138 per week, which amounts to £7,200 a year. However, it announced it is withdrawing the subsidy from Easter, citing the cost and the availability of other services when it is having to remove services from communities that have no other buses.
The move sparked unrest in Milfield, Kirknewton, and Cornhill, with the service said to be a lifeline to residents wanting to shop or visit relatives.
The parish council at Milfield – which has no other bus service to Newcastle – set up a petition which around 140 people signed and which has now been sent to the county.
Those at Wooler, Branxton and Crookham are now also said to be opposing the loss of the service.
Now, county councillor for Wooler Anthony Murray has called for the route to be given a reprieve while consultation is carried out.
In an email to authority bosses, he said: “I am certain there will be services funded by county which do not have the community benefit which this funding provides.
“The benefit that this service provides to the North and Mid Northumberland rural populace is immense. I assure you it is money well spent. I continue to request that myself, parish councillors whose parishes are affected and the general public affected by cutting this service are given the chance to air our concerns and the decision which has been made is put on hold until you have given us all time for full consultation.”
Yet the authority has said it will not be carrying out any consultation and that its stance remains the same.
A spokesman said: “Given the financial position has not changed, we will be withdrawing the Saturday service.”
Tony Finch, chairman of the council at Milfield, voiced his disappointment.
But he vowed his council would continue fighting for the service, and called for the county to meet Coun Murray and parishes along the route.
Coun Finch said of the cost to the county: “It seems to be such a small amount of money in the broad scheme of things.”
It seems to be such a small amount of money in the broad scheme of things