COME and spend a fortnight in Zennor without a bus service this winter.”
That’s the invitation from one village resident to Cornwall councillors as they try to come up with a rescue plan following the decision by Western Greyhound to withdraw their entire Penzance and Hayle bus operation from November 3.
The announcement by the bus company was made as Cornwall Council looked to save around £500,000 from its bus budget for the current financial year – routes 501 (Penzance to Land’s End), 504 (Penzance to St Just), 507 (St Just to Gurnard’s Head), 508 (Penzance to St Ives), 509 (St Just to Penzance via Tregeseal and Sancreed), 512 (Penzance circular), 513 (Leedstown to Penzance) and 515 (Gwithian to Penzance via Hayle and St Erth) will all go.
Catherine Penhaul, from Zennor (the 508 route), proposes that Cornwall councillors and officers actually experience what it is like, living in a remote village with no bus service.
“I suggest that those making these decisions come and spend a fortnight in Zennor this winter,” she says.
“Leave your car behind and get a feel of what it’s like to be cut off from essential services, leisure activities and your friends.”
The sweeping cutbacks in rural services have been met with consternation by many living in Penwith’s more outlying areas.
An online petition – http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/55058 – calling for an end to the cuts to bus subsidies in West Cornwall has been set up by Katherine Gray and has already been signed by around 450 people.
Ms Gray says: “To drastically cut rural supported bus services will cause unemployment, lower employment prospects, damage the local economies of rural communities and has the potential to cause social exclusion for many people living in these areas.”
In addition parish councils are also calling for feedback from local residents.
Parishioners in Sancreed are being asked to make their views known to the parish clerk ahead of their next meeting on October 15, and in Zennor they are being urged to contact Peter Marsh, Cornwall Council’s interim corporate director for the environment; transport portfolio holder Bert Biscoe and local MP Andrew George.
However Cornwall Council say they are working on a plan with other bus services “to replace some of the services lost when Western Greyhound decided to withdraw from West Cornwall”.
“We will be making an announcement this week but cannot give a categorical date as to when this will take place at this stage.”
Cornwall councillor Roy Mann, whose Ludgvan ward stretches from Eastern Green, up to Ludgvan and north of Penzance across to Morvah, said he had received a number of letters from people who rely on the 508 service.
“They need the service to get to work and it has to be replaced,” he said.
“I have taken the matter up with the transport department and am optimistic that the route will be replaced in some form.”