Arriva’s £25,000 could help save buses

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AN ELECTRONIC information board and subsidising bus services are two ways that Whitby Town Council has proposed to spend the controversial £25,000 being offered to the town by bus company Arriva.

The town council’s working party, formed last June after an offer of cash to compensate for poor services was made, met on Friday to discuss options.

Town Councillor Niall Carson, chaired the meeting attended by fellow councillors, representatives from North Yorkshire County Council, Esk Valley Railway and Tony Batty, the head of operations for Arriva.

Catherine Price, NYCC integrated transport manager, gave a breakdown of figures of what was needed to sustain local services should a proposal to withdraw subsidies be agreed later this month.

The top up needed for the 93 Whitby to Scarborough Monday to Saturday evenings is £16,902; 93/93X Sunday and Bank Holidays, £5,707; 5A Whitby to Loftus on Monday to Saturday evenings, £26,771; 5A Robin Hoods Bay to Loftus Sunday and Bank Holidays, £233; 5A Whitby to Loftus Sunday and Bank Holidays, £6,881; 91, 92, 94a, 95 Whitby town Monday to Saturday evenings, £25,915 and Sunday and Bank Holidays £7,892.

Coun Carson said: “It is better to have an imperfect service than one that doesn’t exist. Can we get somebody to match that so we can make up the £90,000 and try to retain the service warts and all?”

A member of the public said: “If petrol is going up, we are going to rely more and more on public transport. 40% don’t have access to a private car, we need these services to remain. I would say get as much information out there as possible from as many points as we can.”

Local Jackie Fearnley added: “What has bothered me for a long time is the lack of proper information. We have been talking about it in Whitby but if it (big screen) doesn’t work in Middlesbrough is it likely to work away from the base?

“Is it going to get us very far when at the moment we have not got a viable bus service?”

The suggestions were presented to a full meeting of Whitby Town Council on Tuesday night and another meeting of the working party has been scheduled for Thursday 10 February, 2pm in the Normanby Room at Whitby Museum.

Last Friday’s meeting followed a heated extraordinary public meeting last month about why the offer had only just become public knowledge but Tony Batty said a specific sum had never been mentioned to Whitby Town Council.

He said: “The actual value of the offer was never put to Whitby Town Council. The thoughts I had were let’s see what the people of Whitby would like and we would see if we could reach what they required rather than say here’s a sum of money.

“There is a tendency to spend up to it rather than get what is required. The money remains in Arriva’s bank account and always has been.”

However, there was still some confusion amongst councillors as Mayor of Whitby Coun Terry Jennison wanted to know how the figure had been leaked and NYCC Coun Jane Kenyon questioned the “gap” between the meeting last June which prompted Arriva to offer cash compensation and it coming to light now.