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Protests rise against proposed Ryedale bus cuts
PROPOSALS to cut bus services in Ryedale’s towns and villages brought a storm of protest at a public meeting last week.
Residents and councillors aired their concerns over plans to meet new saving targets implemented by North Yorkshire County Council.
They include reducing the amount spent on bus subsidies by 25 per cent or £1.1million a year.
Speaking at the county council’s Ryedale Area Committee at Pickering on Wednesday, Coun Linda Cowling (Cons), leader of the district council, said she feared that cuts in the subsidies could lead to social exclusion of many people.
“No-one can estimate the economic damage to our towns,” she said.
One resident, Helen Fields said: “Those of us who use the buses are all friends – we help each other out. The people making these decisions don’t rely on buses themselves.”
Norton’s county councillor, Elizabeth Shields (Lib Dem), criticised the director of business and environmental services, for the total lack of regard for the people in Ryedale in general and in Norton in particular.
She said: “The buses which currently run between Norton, Malton and their surrounding villages, are a very vital life-line for all those who have no other means of transport. These buses are essential for access to such places as the surgery, the hospital, dentists and shops.
“They also provide an opportunity for many older citizens, disabled, and those living alone, to get out of the house to meet friends and relatives in town. Without these vital routes for many residents will be deprived and isolated.”
Coun Shields said the cost of the subsidy for the Norton to Malton bus route was £18,000 per year.
“Now, no one would deny that this is a lot of money, but in terms of the county council, which deals in thousands of millions, it is a drop in the ocean,” she said.
“I strongly believe that we must maintain our buses as they provide a basic link in communication and if removed will have a huge impact on the lives of hundreds of people in our rural communities.”
Coun Lindsay Burr (Lib Dem), who represents Malton, said she had been inundated with emails and correspondence from worried residents from all her division villages as well as residents in Malton and Old Malton.
“I’m utterly shocked and saddened about the proposals to cut the bus services which in the main effect the many residents with no transport and rely on these services,” she said.
“We need to protect the vunerable in our society and not make people prisoners in their own home. I will fight to save the cuts.”
The consultation runs until November 25.
Details are available online at www.northyorks.gov.uk/busconsultation, by phoning the customer service centre on 08458 727374, or by visiting any of the county council’s libraries.
A petition is available to sign at the Gazette & Herald office, 22 Yorkersgate, Malton.