Nottingham bus cuts a ‘false economy’

Nottingham bus cuts a ‘false economy’

A campaign is underway to highlight the impact of proposed bus cuts, particularly to older and vulnerable people in Nottingham.

The cuts to Locallink and Worklink bus services are being approved at full council meeting on 4 March, 2019.

Nottingham Community Transport, Age UK, Bus Users UK, Lilian Greenwood MP and passengers themselves are urging Nottingham City Council to rethink proposed cuts and reductions to vital bus services on which so many people in Nottingham rely.

The call comes days before Nottingham City Council’s full council are due to meet (4 March 2019) to discuss and take forward the proposals – including full withdrawal and reduced frequencies on some of the key Locallink and Worklink bus services in Nottingham, operated by Nottingham Community Transport.

Passengers have said the measures on the table will lead to:

  • longer wait times for buses;
  • a change of bus and use of two services, instead of one;
  • more crowded buses;
  • use of other, more costly services;
  • compromised safety and security (through longer walks to alternative services)
  • curbing of choice; and
  • the mobility of more older and vulnerable members of the community being compromised.

Mick Tinkler, Chief Executive of Age UK Nottingham & Nottinghamshire, said: “A lack access to transport can have a profound impact on the quality of life, health and wellbeing of those in later life.

“For those without access to a car, particularly those who are lonely or isolated, reliable public transport or community transport is essential for attending medical appointments, going to the shops and visiting friends, relatives and social groups. There seems little point in decimating local transport and then having to invest in services to deal with the aftermath.”

Mick urged: “We would implore the council to make every effort to continue to fund Locallink services and other such transport initiatives that enable Nottinghamshire’s older people to continue to access services and enjoy their later life.”

Nottingham Community Transport has now been given notice that Nottingham City Council funding for the L22/L23 Locallink services will be withdrawn, with the last day of operation on Saturday 1 June 2019. This notice of termination has been issued in advance of the council meeting scheduled for Monday 4 March to approve cuts to services.

Lilian Greenwood, MP for Nottingham South and Chair of the House of Commons Transport Select Committee told Nottingham Community Transport: “Nottingham City Council’s main Government funding has been cut by three quarters since 2013 – from £127m to just £25m for the next year, at the same time the Government have been handing out extra cash to some Tory shires. Since the government began their austerity agenda, Tory shires like Surrey have gained £19 per household while cities like Nottingham have lost £529. I am however disappointed to see that Nottingham City Council is proposing these cuts.

“In 2017 the Transport Select Committee investigated community transport and as chair of the committee I heard how these services are viewed as a lifeline by those who rely on them, particularly older and disabled people. I’ve had a number of constituents contact me regarding the Castle Marina services, concerned that they’re going to be completely isolated and left with no public transport service whatsoever.”

Lilian concluded: “Nottingham has a great reputation for its award-winning public transport network, we must ensure that this continues and we continue to provide a first class service for residents and communities across Nottingham.”

Claire Walters, Chief Executive of bus passenger champion Bus Users UK told Nottingham Community Transport: “While funding is in short supply across the UK, cutting Nottingham’s bus services is a false economy. The Government’s recent strategy on loneliness points to the hugely damaging health impacts - and costs - associated with social isolation. But buses offer the perfect solution, keeping people and communities connected and reducing social isolation. If Nottingham City Council really wants to save money, they should be investing in bus services, not cutting them.”

The services affected are summarised below.

Total withdrawals:

  • L3: QMC – Billborough – Strelley (replaced with a diverted L2 journey)
  • L7: Charlbury Road (replaced by ‘some L5 journeys’)
  • L22/23 Clifton – Silverdale – Ruddington – West Bridgford – Gamston Circular
  • W1 City – Lenton Lane Industrial Estate
  • W2 City – Crossgate Drive

Reduced frequencies:

  • L1 Silverdale – Wilford – City
  • L2 City – QMC – Glaisdale Parkway – Nottingham Business Park (with a diversion to compensate the withdrawal of L3)
  • L4: Radford – Beechdale - Aspley
  • L9: City – Mapperley  - Sherwood - Arnold
  • L11: Arnold – Bulwell – Bilborough - Beeston (shortening of service)

Route changes/merging:

  • L5 – Wollaton Park Estate – Castle Marina – City (route change)
  • L6 & L14 (to merge to extend the L14 service)
  • L6: Bulwell Hall
  • L14: City – Hyson Green – Bulwell

Passenger Reactions

17-year old Emily who lives at the Mornington Crescent estate in Nuthall, told Nottingham Community Transport: “I’m an A-level student and I go to school quite far from where I live. I used to take the Rainbow One service, but it’s a really far walk and is meant to be every 10 minutes, but it really isn’t. If the cut goes ahead, it means a very far walk. I might not be able to get to school on time and I’ll have to take the other bus service which gets extremely full and I’ll have to stand all the way into town.”

Emily added: “There are quite a few older people on our estate – I feel they will be cut off and I don’t feel that is fair.”

20-year old Cristen takes the bus to get to the railway station to see her boyfriend Daniel in Sheffield. “It is a lot cheaper – more affordable, more efficient,” she said. “If the service is cut, I’d have less time to spend with him. I can’t drive so my only access is by bus.”

Brian Wooding, Acting Chair of Nottingham Community Transport’s Board of Trustees commented: “I was shocked to see the severity of the budget cuts proposed to the Locallink and Worklink services by the City Council.  It is saddening to realise how much it will affect those residents of Nottingham who can ill afford to find otherwise costly alternatives when services are lost or changed beyond practical use.”

“We are aware that the City Council needs to save money, but the Workplace Parking Levy was introduced to support the Linkbus network, including services to help people get to and from work and these services are now under threat of being withdrawn.”

“As usual it is the older, infirm residents, young families and those on low incomes that will suffer the most by these proposals,” added Brian.

Consultation by Nottingham City Council has centred on an email address, to which comments on the proposals should be sent before 4 March 2019; however many older, vulnerable and mobility-impaired people and those on low-incomes in Nottingham either do not have access to email and a computer, or are unable to use this method of communication.

“I’m sure the Council will maintain that it has undertaken the appropriate level of consultation to enable the budget cuts to go through,” continued Brian. “However, I wait to be advised by the City Council if any attempt has been made to advertise service changes on the Linkbuses themselves or to raise awareness of the issues with the users of the services to enable meaningful consultation to take place.  I appreciate that timescales are tight, and the demands on the City’s finances are great but meaningful public engagement should be bywords for the Council on such important issues.”    

“We have been inundated with telephone calls and emails from concerned passengers about the proposed cuts to Locallink services and the fact that very little information has been released,” said Ian Combellack, General Manager of Nottingham Community Transport. “As you can expect, it is also a very worrying time for our staff.

“The Council are saying that, where Linkbus services are proposed to be withdrawn, alternative services are available, however for most passengers this will require a change of buses which will be an added inconvenience.”

Ian concluded: “It is very concerning for some passengers who have told us that they will become prisoners in their own homes as they will be unable to afford expensive taxis, if the services are withdrawn.  We’re back to the old scenario where a free bus pass scheme has been introduced, but there will be fewer services available for passengers to use.”

For more information contact Campaign Adviser, Meera Rambissoon  on Meera@ct4n.co.uk

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