Hope of reprieve for Tenbury bus service

First published in Tenbury Wells

THERE is hope that a threatened bus service linking Tenbury with the outside world may be saved after all.

It has looked like the end of the road for the 291 service when Worcestershire County Council threatened to axe the link between Tenbury and Kidderminster.

The bus became a target as the council looked to slash £3 million from its budget.

With each journey on the 291 subsidised to the tune of more than £3 this service looked near the top of the list to achieve major savings.

But now the council has slammed on the brakes and will not make a final decision until June, instead of in March as had been intended.

The council has also decided that instead of trying to save £3 million it has scaled down its ambitions and is now looking to cut the bus budget by £1.9 million.

With more than £1 million that was previously not going to be available now in the kitty is is hoped that some of it can be directed at keeping the 291 service in some form or other.

But Ken Pollock, who represents Tenbury on Worcestershire County Council, has cautioned people against getting their hopes too high.

“I agree that this is a vital service but do not see that there is a lot of scope for retaining a service by cutting back the frequency,” he said.

“It might be possible to run the bus on a limited number of days of the week but this would not be any good for people who use it to get to work or college.”

However, Councillor George Price, the mayor of Tenbury who had led a campaign to save the bus service, is hopeful that there can be some kind of a reprieve.

Last year he organised a petition and a survey of people that use the bus.

He revealed that his survey involved 120 journeys on the bus and showed that more than half of them are essential.

Nearly four in every 10 (38%) is made by people going to a doctor of hospital appointment while nearly one in five (18%) are people going to study in college.

This group includes six young people from Tenbury with learning difficulties that attend a special course in Kidderminster that is not available elsewhere.

The survey by the mayor also showed that nearly one on 10 of the journeys (eight %) is made in order to get to and from work.

“Without this bus service those journeys for many will be impossible thereby increasing the risk of rural isolation especially for the elderly and disadvantaged members of our society,” said Coun Price.

“There are no alternative public transport routes for the people of Tenbury to use. For many this bus is a lifeline to essential services.”

He has called upon the county council to show some flexibility and make a special case for the 291 service.

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