Council proposal could spell the end for key rural bus service in Northamptonshire

A Northamptonshire County Council proposal could see a vital bus service end in 2018, potentially leaving people in rural parts of the county with no means of getting into towns and villages.

Wednesday, 25th October 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 9:52 am
Craig White an accessibility planning officer for Northamptonshire County Council and Matt Hammon (driver) a managing consultant show-off the Mercedes Benz mini-bus intended for use from 2008.

County Connect is an on-demand bus service whereby passengers can arrange to be collected from their town or village and taken to a destination of their choice, or where they can connect to existing bus routes.

The service is crucial to those unable to travel independently and prevents users from becoming isolated from communities.

The first paragraph of a letter sent to users of the service read: "Northamptonshire County Council is currently consulting on removing all money paid to subsidise public transport.

"If this proposal is confirmed the County Connect bus service would end during 2018 and it is likely that many rural parts of the county will have either no or limited public transport.”

Ian Morris, Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member responsible for transport stated that the policy was being brought forward with a heavy heart.

In 2006 the Chancellor announced that by April 2008, over 60s and disabled people would benefit from free travel on any local bus service.

In anticipation of greater bus usage, the county council drew up plans for a daily minibus (pictured) service which would serve Abthorpe, Slapton, Wappenham, Weedon Lois, Helmdon, Weston, Moreton Pinkney, Canons Ashby, Adstone, Maidford, Blakesley, Woodend and Bradden

The Mercedes Benz that was to operate the service - complete with the council's logo - was put on display at the launch in Towcester’s Community Centre, but the proposals were subsequently dropped.

No alternative to the County Connect service has yet been offered since the letter was sent out.

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