Residents hit out at slashing of bus service

NAWN. Boston Spa local John Townend pictured at his bus stop near Grove Road. 111005ARpic2.
NAWN. Boston Spa local John Townend pictured at his bus stop near Grove Road. 111005ARpic2.

Residents are protesting after learning that a popular bus service between Wetherby and Tadcaster will have its service almost halved this month.

The 923 Tadcaster-Otley route, which serves Boston Spa, Wetherby, Bardsey and Scarcroft, will have its hours slashed on October 31.

It currently runs every 90 minutes Monday to Friday, but will be reduced to one bus about every two and a half hours.

The Saturday service will be halved, with just three buses from its previous six.

Clifford resident Alan Pennington, 68, who uses the service, told the Wetherby News: “This will severely affect and inconvenience a lot of people’s daily lives, particularly I feel in the Eastern Boston Spa area. It will immediately put people at a disadvantage, people without access to cars.

“I am fortunate in that I have access to a car, and can cycle into Tadcaster, but for those who are less fortunate, what are they going to do?

“People will now not be able to get the services they need. Also it is not like Wetherby and Tadcaster are tiny insignificant towns. These are big towns, it’s a complete disgrace.”

Mr Pennington compared the situation to Wetherby, where an ongoing bus war between Connexions buses and Transdev Harrogate and District, previously reported by the Wetherby News, has seen buses up to six times an hour on the Harrogate Wetherby line.

He said: “In Wetherby there is this daft bus war going on, with a regular supply for people to Harrogate. Compare this to what is now going to happen between Wetherby and Tadcaster, we have hardly a service here at all.”

Mr Pennington added that he believed the current service was a much used and appreciated link between the two towns.

The bus route is currently operated by Utopia and funded jointly between Metro and North Yorkshire County Council.

The service is being reduced due to local government budget cuts and because Metro says it needs to make a “significant reduction in expenditure.”

John Townend, 66, a retired children’s service manager who lives in Boston Spa, said he was ‘dismayed’ by the cuts to the bus service.

“This change will bring isolation and hardship to many, and inevitably place further strain on welfare services in order to support the many people in the area with mobility and health problems and no independent means of transport.”

Mr Townend, who is diabetic, says he uses the service to get into Wetherby as he is not allowed to drive after he has been to his doctors based there.

“If I can’t use this service what will other people do? What about people who live and work in Tadcaster and finish late? How will they get home? And mothers who take their children to school? It will have a severe impact, reducing it really is no service at all.”

Mr Townend said he had written a letter of complaint to Tadcaster and Wetherby MPs Alec Shelbrooke and Nigel Adams.

Boston Spa Parish Council also posted a message on their website voicing their concerns about the lack of information on the new timetable - they said that the new timetable had not been posted on the Metro website to date and that the “major changes seem to have had no real consultation.”

A spokesman for Metro said the cuts were necessary and parish councils had been consulted: “Owing to reduced Government funding for local authorities, Metro and North Yorkshire County Council need to reduce our spending on bus services.

“After consulting with parish councils along the route, we are making changes to service 923 from October 2011. Although the service will be reduced and use only a single vehicle, it means the links between Otley, Wetherby and Tadcaster will be maintained while providing the best value for money for council tax-payers.”