Could village bus services end on Feb 20th?

The Number 5 bus en route between Chipping and Longridge
The Number 5 bus en route between Chipping and Longridge
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Dozens of people turned up to a meeting to protest against cuts to ‘lifeline’ bus services.

The meeting – called by Save Our Buses Ribchester at the village’s Sports and Social Club – saw around 80 people turn up to show their concern.

Our aim must be to find a solution to get all our buses reinstated

David Hudson

Rural bus routes are under threat and Lancashire county Council proposes to axe all £7.5m bus subsidies – a decision which would mean many rural communities will be left without public transport.

Chairman David Hudson said it was essential local people spelled out their concerns to councillors.

He said: “Our aim must be to find a solution to get all our buses reinstated.”

In Ribchester all bus services through the village could end on February 20 as the service operator has decided to end its local services.

The company says its staff, aware of the impending cuts, will be seeking new jobs and the firm could be hit by a staffing shortage.

The proposals are part of a raft of swingeing cuts as the County Council has to save £65m from its budget.

Ribchester resident Brenda Duxbury works at Debenhams in Blackburn and is reliant on the bus to take her to work.

She said: “I love my job and it’s been taken out of my hands. I’m going to struggle because I don’t drive. My husband has his own business so I can’t expect him to be my taxi driver. I’m gutted.”

She said it will cost her £24 a day to get a taxi to work and back.

Janet Timbrell, from Chipping, does not drive and has health issues which means she has regular medical appointments and wonders how she will get to them if bus subsidies are cut as planned.

But her biggest worry is about her son Dylan, 14, who suffers from epilepsy. She says without bus services she will be stranded, unable to get to his school in an emergency.

She said: “My son at Tom Finney High School has epilepsy. If he has a fit I need to get out of the village quickly to get to hospital to see him. I need the bus for shopping and hospital appointments.”

She continued: “I have serious health issues with my legs and back. I need to see a consultant – they’re not going to come and see me at home.”

In the Ribble Valley many students attend college in Preston, Blackburn or sixth form in Clitheroe and they are reliant on public transport to get there.

India Lupton, from Forty Acre Farm on Jeffrey Hill, Longridge, is studying for a BTEC in textiles and has been awarded a gifted and talented scholarship.

But a day return taxi service from her home to the town would cost £150 a week.

Bev Kershaw’s son Ethan, 16, also studies at the college and she said: “I don’t know how on earth I am going to get him there. To pay a taxi every day – how on earth am I going to afford that?”

Young Ribchester resident Lucy Handley drives, but through her work as a care assistant at a Longridge care home says she has seen first hand how vital it is for public transport to continue.

She said: “My concern is people visiting relations in the care home. It is vitally important for residents to see their family members.

“It makes a huge difference to resents’ lives and makes their families feel happier. Residents will feel isolated.”

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