Fight to save Ottery’s vital bus service

PUBLISHED: 19:18 10 February 2015

Slade Close residents Raymond and Evelyn Hearn lwaiting to catch the bus this week. Ref sho 7140-06-15SH. Photo Simon Horn

Slade Close residents Raymond and Evelyn Hearn lwaiting to catch the bus this week. Ref sho 7140-06-15SH. Photo Simon Horn

Archant

Ottery representatives are rallying to fight for the town bus, as residents fear the service that acts as a lifeline to many will be axed.

The community reacted with shock and anger to the news that the 381 will end under proposals announced by Devon County Council (DCC) last week – and many have said they do not know how they will cope.

Civic leaders have spoken out against plans to cut the daily service, and now Councillor Claire Wright says she will fight to keep the bus running on a reduced number of days.

Cllr Wright said: “People I spoke to were shocked and upset - they feel devastated by the idea they will not have that bus.

“It is their lifeline.”

She is currently in talks with DCC officers and hopes it may be possible to keep the service running at least two or three days a week.

Mrs Wright added: “I am not yet actually sure how much it would cost, but it could come out of my locality budget.”

Cllr Roger Giles commended Mrs Wright’s actions at a town council meeting on Monday.

He said: “I am very concerned about the threat to the bus. It would be a tragedy if it was lost, not just for the elderly, but also for the traders.”

Cllr Elli Pang agreed and said it is essential people are able to get out and socialise.

Mayor Glynn Dobson told the Herald he admires what Mrs Wright is trying to do, but says the actual cost of running the bus needs to be found out.

He added: “I am obviously very distressed that the service will close down in Ottery. The town bus is for the elderly and vulnerable.”

Raymond Hearn, 88, and his wife Evyln, of Slade Close, are two of many who depend entirely on the service.

“The bus is a lifeline to us, we shall be cut off from the town with out it,” said Raymond.

“I do not know what to do because I cannot get a taxi every time and there is no one else who can help.”

He agreed a sensible alternative would be to run the bus at least two or three days a week, so people could arrange appointments around its timetable.

A public consultation is under way over a raft of proposed cuts put forward by DCC in a bid to save £1.7million from its annual budget over two years.

The consultation closes on Monday, April 20, and full details are available online at www.toughchoices.co.uk.


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