Reprieve for lifeline rural bus services

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A lifeline bus which serves Goathland and the surrounding villages in the Esk Valley may not have reached the end of the road just yet.

Residents and campaigners had organised a public meeting to air their objections to the county council’s decision to cut the amount of money it sets aside to subsidise bus services.

With 18 out of 29 routes looking like they are going to be 
affected, the Malton to Whitby moors service was feared to be one of them.

But at the meeting, which took place in Goathland Village Hall on Thursday night, it was announced that an agreement had been reached with a private bus firm which would see a service still operate through the village.

Local resident Jackie Fearnley, who has been spearheading the campaign, said at the start of the meeting a tender had been received that was lower than the previous operator and that the service between Malton and Whitby would operate as it currently does.

It was not confirmed who would be taking on the route – which for around the last 20 years has been operated by Coastliner – but it is believed to be subject to a four-year contract with a level of financial provision that has already been set.

Ms Fearnley said: “We are grateful at the moment there is a reprieve but we can’t rest on our laurels for our bus service.

“There is a feeling of relief but this has been overtaken by concern as we feel that this service is still vulnerable.”

She is appealing for local bus users to get together as a group so they will be in a position to fight cuts and changes to bus services if they come up again in the future.

Ms Fearnley added: “We could be seen as a group of people who can be consulted on any other changes.

“I came across a letter I had written in 2013 saying I was a bus user but despite that we weren’t seen as the people to consult.

“I think it would be positive if we could have a broad group of people who would just oversee what is happening in the future and make representations.”

At the meeting there was also concern about the lack of consultation and information about the proposed cuts this time too.

Notices which were supposed to have been placed in buses hadn’t, and despite assurances that letters had been sent to parish councils, both Egton and Grosmont hadn’t received them.

The findings of surveys and public consultations were put to North Yorkshire County Council’s transport committee and a final decision will be made in December.