Hot on the heels of Arriva’s withdrawal of the 501/505 bus service from January, Swarland has now been informed that the last remaining bus service – the 813, run by Rothbury Motors on a Thursday is also to end.
Apparently Northumberland County Council put the service out to tender but it was decided that the proposals received in response were “too expensive and did not provide value for money”.
It would be interesting to know what criteria were applied in making the value for money decision, and how much weight was given to the need for a public transport service in villages like Swarland and Newton-On-The-Moor.
Chairman of Newton and Swarland Parish Council David Rixon has been working hard to fight for better public transport for the parish. He is quoted in this week’s Northumberland Gazette as saying “It’s ridiculous. It just shows again that they are totally abandoning the North area, I just can’t understand what they are playing at”.
David went on “It won’t just have an affect on the villages from which the services are being withdrawn. It will have a big affect on Alnwick as there will be fewer people going there for shopping. Young people won’t be able to go to work or college either. They can’t use cars because insurance premiums are so high, so they are stuck.”
However, the Parish Council are not taking this lying down. David said “We, as a Parish Council, have put a bit of funding aside so we are going to have to see if we can get together with other councils to try to pay for it ourselves. Therefore, we are going to have to pay even more because the County Council is withdrawing services”.
The issue was raised at Northumberland County Council’s “North Area Committee” meeting by County Councillor Trevor Thorne, who told the Northumberland Gazette “people can’t get to work, students can’t access further education, it is a really difficult position. There have been meetings…but we are in a situation where two villages are completely without public transport”.
The Swarland Chronicles is following this story closely. We regard the withdrawal of public transport for village residents to be totally unacceptable. Whoever is responsible for these decisions should hang their heads in shame. We are actively publicising this story on social media websites and will do whatever we can to keep the pressure on and not let this issue be buried by the County Council, Bus Companies or anyone else involved.
Clearly, the main service here is the 501/505 – which villagers depended on to go to Newcastle, Morpeth and Alnwick in particular. For anyone to say that these buses cannot be diverted for 2 miles to pass through two villages who badly need public transport is poppycock.