Tenbury bus service waits outcome of County Council decision on subsidies

First published in News

HOPE is growing that a bus service linking Tenbury with Kidderminster will be saved.

The 291 service that joins the two towns and serves a number of villages in the Teme Valley has had a cloud hanging over it because of a funding review by Worcestershire County Council.

It is a heavily subsidised service and was facing the axe as Worcestershire County Council looked to slash £3 million from its public transport budget.

But the saving that will be made has now been cut to £1.9 million and a further review that has been undertaken.

The outcome will be revealed next month (June).

Councillor George Price, the outgoing mayor of Tenbury, has led a campaign to save the 291. He undertook a survey that he shows the bus is used for essential journeys such as medical appointments and getting to work and college.

Tenbury Town Council have argued that the bus provides a vital link and that if it is removed not only the town but the villages in between will be left cut off.

A local transport scheme exists utilising mini buses and cars but would not be able to take the place of the 291 that is partially funded from public subsidy.

Ken Pollock, who represents Tenbury on Worcestershire County Council, said that he is hopeful that the service will be retained.

“I do not know the result of the review but the principles underlying any decision give cause for optimism,” he said.

“The three main priorities are fulfilling the statutory duty to get children to and from school, to reflect the problems of rural isolation and to help people to get to work.

“You will recognise that the 291 scores well in each category.”

However, if the 291 service between Tenbury and Kidderminster is retained then some other links will have to pay the price either by being cut, reduced or with fare increases.

One of the options will be to remove or reduce the subsidy on buses that only need a small level of public support in order to be viable.

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