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Villagers 'will be cut off as buses pass yards away'

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: November 23, 2012

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A BUS operator and Cornwall Council have been lambasted for failing to consult villagers over cuts to their bus service.

Western Greyhound will scrap its twice-hourly 597 service from December 3, leaving just one bus passing through Mitchell during peak times.

The 88A, operated by First, will run once an hour – but not in the evenings or Sundays, when Western Greyhound's soon-to-be renamed 597 service will continue.

Chris Tankard, a Mitchell resident, St Newlyn East parish councillor and regular user of the 597, said neither Cornwall Council nor Western Greyhound had contacted passengers over the changes.

"It's very poor," he said. "The most important people here are the passengers: the guy who needs to get to work, the woman who needs to get to a doctor's appointment, young people trying to get to school or college; these are the ones who are going to be hit hard."

Despite Mitchell losing the 597 during daylight, the service will still pass within yards of the village, on the A30.

Mr Tankard said he had spoken to Western Greyhound managing director Mark Howarth, who said short slip lanes linking the village to the A30 were partly to blame, delaying services because drivers had to wait for a wide enough gap to pull into safely.

Mr Tankard said if pressure could be put on the Highways Agency to lengthen the slip roads, the bus service could be restored to the village.

"We need our bus service," he said.

"It seems crazy to lose it when the bus will still go right past the village."

In a statement, Mr Howarth blamed Cornwall Council for cutting reimbursements for concessionary fare cards from 73.5 per cent to 36 per cent of the average fare.

This meant that in areas with many elderly residents who used bus passes, companies could not recoup enough money to make the service viable. "I urge Cornwall Council to review the reimbursement to bus companies for the conveyance of free bus pass holders to avoid massive hardship to the public," he said.

A spokesman for the council blamed a £2.3 million cut in transport funding by the Government for the reduction in concessionary fare subsidies.

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  • Uschi  |  November 30 2012, 10:19AM

    Mark Howarth faced a similar dilemma when the council stopped funding the 597 into St Columb Minor. He was aware that there were a lot of elderly people living in the village and had a long walk up to Henver Road in all weathers to catch the bus there. However he continued to to send buses in to the village although they ran at a loss. I also think people have a short memory because the bus services in and around Cornwall were dire until Western Greyhound was formed. Mark has run buses through remote areas enabling people to gain employment over the last decade or more and also increased the visitor numbers to tourist attractions in remote areas. Fuel duty has increased vat has increased and all sorts of legislations have been imposed on him! it is a wonder he has not thrown the towel in yet.

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  • Iceman  |  November 26 2012, 12:17PM

    As a resident of Mitchell, I use the bus to commute to work in Truro each day. With the increase in parking charges in Truro and the cost of fuel on the up, it is more cost effective to use the bus. Using the excuse the the slip road is to short, is not acceptable. As someone who used to live in the neighbouring village of Summercourt for many years. This suffers with the same issue of a short slip road back onto the A30. This route is not being cut. Perhaps because their depot is based there. Removing the 597 bus route from Mitchell will effectively kill off the village and many residents including the local children will struggle to commute to both Truro and Newquay.

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