£550,000 cuts to buses could leave Northamptonshire's villages stranded and 'isolated'

Reduced bus services could risk leaving some Northamptonshire communities isolated.
Reduced bus services could risk leaving some Northamptonshire communities isolated.

Northamptonshire's subsidised bus network has shrunk by nearly 500,000 miles in the past four years - and is set to get worse under county council cuts.

In 2016, buses supported by the Government travelled over 40 per cent less than they did in 2013, leaving the residents of villages and rural areas stranded from shops, hospitals and doctors appointments.

Over 30 bus routes in the county are subsidised by the county council - but all of them face an even further reduction in funding under the upcoming budget for next year.

In contrast, the county's commercial bus network only shrunk by 140,000 miles in the same time - a drop of only 1.5 per cent.

Alan Jones, a member of BusUsersUK for Northampton, from Duston, said: "If the money is going to be cut then somebody is going to lose their service.

"Rural areas are the hardest hit. What if you are in Cogenhoe or Pattishall? What if you need to go to the doctors or the hospital, or need to do food shopping? Or even see a friend for a coffee in the town centre? You are left stranded."

The county council is bound by law to identify "socially necessary" bus routes run by commercial companies and help fund them to stay running. They can face legal action if this is not upheld.

The local authority proposed to cut all £1.3million of funding from the buses in a draft budget published last year.

But they have since reversed on this following an overwhelmingly-negative response from the public. This pointed out how cutting buses would just encourage more people to use cars and cause more traffic, while leaving many people socially-isolated.

The buses instead now face a cut of £558,000, with only the on-demand "to-your-door" CallConnect and CountyConnect minibuses being spared.

Alan said: "I don't think it will be enough. It only covers certain areas. For example, it doesn't cover Cogenhoe. It's a sticking plaster at best.

"I don't know if the buses can be saved. I think Northampton Borough Council could try running some of them."

The decline in subsidised journeys in Northamptonshire is in line with a national trend.