A petition of 1379 names against cuts in bus subsidies was presented to Staffordshire County Council by Councillor Charlotte Atkins on behalf of the Staffordshire Labour Group on Thursday October 12th.
Councillor Charlotte Atkins (Leek South Division) said,
“I am presenting this petition on behalf of all those who will be devastated by these cuts in bus subsidies – the most disadvantaged: the old, the young, the sick, the disabled and those on low incomes.
“Buses are a lifeline in a rural county like Staffordshire – providing access to employment, education, healthcare, shopping and leisure opportunities. These are all vital to the quality of people’s lives.
“Without these buses, we will be adding to the epidemic of loneliness and social isolation. That will add to the mental health problems which are already high within Staffordshire and have huge consequences for rural communities.
“These swingeing cuts – a 70% reduction to the bus subsidies’ budget – are being proposed without any alternatives being planned. Why isn’t the County Council exploring innovative solutions to address the transport needs of our most vulnerable citizens – working with taxi services, health organisations, supermarkets, leisure outlets, and communities to develop sustainable alternatives? This must be done in advance of the axe falling.
“For once, we need not just to consider the bottom line but the needs of our most vulnerable residents – whose voice is rarely heard. We need to focus on the human and social outcomes of these ill thought out plans.”
Talke and Red Street County Councillor, Kyle Robinson said,
“Many people in our local community will feel trapped if more bus routes are axed. I will continue to raise concerns of those residents who are worried about the future of their local bus services. Many residents in my division who use public transport are worried that they may not be able to reach Royal Stoke Hospital without having to use taxis or walk miles. Perhaps it is time for the Government to consider renationalising bus companies before the whole system fails.”
Chesterton Borough Councillor and campaigner, Cllr Allison Gardner said,
“We have been campaigning and collecting signatures for our petition over the summer. These cuts have already resulted in bus companies removing routes altogether. Audley have lost their Saturday bus service to Newcastle and the number 17 Hanley bus has been cut. Cuts to public transport means isolation of people who cannot afford cars or are unable to drive. This means our elderly, disabled, young and poor residents will be adversely affected – the very people we need to be supporting the most. They, and whole communities, will become increasingly isolated and their access to work, training, health services and shops will be reduced. In turn this will have a detrimental effect on our local economy as well as the health, well being and opportunities of our residents. This is a further example of the appalling cuts forced on local government by the Conservative government and it is time we all spoke up, whatever our political persuasion, and said enough!”
Local Labour councillors hail success after securing £45,000 to upgrade public footpath 216 in Butt Lane. The footpath is accessed from West Avenue and runs behind the houses of Church Street, finally exiting onto Congleton Road adjacent to St. Saviours Primary School. The improvement works will be funded by a Public Right of Way contribution from Taylor Wimpey. Taylor Wimpey’s contribution was secured through a section 106 agreement with Newcastle Borough Council.
It is understood that the works will be completed by contractors appointed by Staffordshire County Council and not housing developer, Taylor Wimpey. The contractor will begin work on the surfacing of the footpath on Monday 16th January. The path will be temporarily closed for the duration of the works. Residents are politely asked to use other routes until the works are completed.
Councillor Kyle Robinson said: “I welcome the news that this footpath will finally be brought up to a decent standard. Back in 2013, Sylvia and I raised the alarm about the state the public footpath had been left in following the development of Bluebell Croft. The footpath in question has been used for many years by local residents as a safer route to school and for recreational purposes. I am pleased we have been listened to on this matter and finally this 106 agreement will deliver for local people. It’s about time our local area gets the investment it deserves and we will fight for more.”
Councillor Sylvia Dymond added: “Many residents have been calling for an improvement to the footpath, including those that have moved onto the new estate. Local people have endured two years of problems with fencing, building work and a muddy overgrown footpath so this news is well received. At last we have a safer route for everyone to reach the local school, shops and to just enjoy a walk.”
Councillor Kyle Robinson is calling on Staffordshire County Council Highways department to fix damaged crash barriers in the Butt Lane ward located on Congleton Road and Fourth Avenue. Some of the damaged barriers were reported months ago and have yet to be fixed. Highways officers also highlighted in an email that repairing the barriers were not a priority in certain locations, even at a school entrance. There have been several accidents at both locations in recent months and residents are furious that the Council is failing to take their concerns seriously. The crash barriers were put in place to protect pedestrians walking past busy junctions which are also known to be crash hot spots.
Kyle said: “I reported the damaged barriers outside of the school entrance on Fourth Avenue nearly 12 months ago and the County Council has still done nothing to repair them. I am particularly concerned that damaged barriers at a school entrance are not seen as a priority. Well over 400 school children use Fourth Avenue each morning to access The Kings School. I think the safety of our kids should always be a top priority and I call on Staffordshire County Council to get their act together and fix these barriers as a matter of urgency. The regularly damaged barriers on the Congleton Road Junction with Cedar Avenue is further evidence that this particular stretch of road is dangerous and a thorough traffic survey is required.”
Local resident, Helen Chadwick said: “The barriers were installed to protect people walking past busy junctions. The barriers on Fourth Avenue are near to a school entrance and I dread to think what could happen should a car hit the already damaged and weakened barriers. The County Council should fix the problem without question or further delay.”
Crash barriers at both sites have been re-reported and reference numbers have been obtained. Any updates received regarding future repairs will be published here for information.