Funding is found to restore Ribble Valley village’s only bus service

Dozens of residents of Sabden demonstrating outside County Hall, Preston, in May this year after their one and only bus service was axed. Picture by Paul Heyes.
Dozens of residents of Sabden demonstrating outside County Hall, Preston, in May this year after their one and only bus service was axed. Picture by Paul Heyes.

Lancashire County Council is proposing changes to bus routes in the Ribble Valley which will include restoring public transport to the village of Sabden.

Alterations to a number of routes could be introduced from December 5th after funding became available to extend a bus service in the Henthorn area of Clitheroe where new housing is being developed.

Planning conditions were agreed by the developer of the Ribble Meadows development at Henthorn Farm, Henthorn Road, Clitheroe, in 2012 to provide funding for a bus to the site for a period of five years after a certain level of occupation had been achieved.

This “section 106” funding has now become available, and plans have been developed to change the route and timetable of the Service 2 Clitheroe Town bus to serve the Henthorn Ribble Meadows development, but no longer to visit Peel Park.

Along with changes to other existing county-council supported routes in the area, this will allow for a replacement Service 4 from Clitheroe to Peel Park, which will extend to Padiham, and also serve Whalley and Sabden.

Sabden lost regular transport links in May 2016 when Transdev withdrew a commercial bus serving the village.

A decision on the proposed changes is due to be taken by County Coun. John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, next Thursday November 10th.

County Coun. Fillis said: “When Sabden lost its bus service in May we began looking at what we could do to help.

“However, the council had already taken the decision to reduce our budget to support buses from around £7m to £2m and our very difficult financial position meant we could not afford to replace what was a commercial service with one supported by the county council.

“We approached bus companies, but none were willing to provide a replacement bus through Sabden on a commercial basis. We also held a number of meetings with Ribble Valley Borough Council, Sabden Parish Council, and representatives of the Sabden community, to explore the possibility of establishing a community-based transport solution, however, it has not been possible to develop a sustainable proposal so far.”

He added: “I’m all too aware of the impact that losing their bus has had on people in Sabden who used it for journeys to work, school, college and medical appointments, and I’d like to thank them for their patience over recent months.

“Our officers have been working hard to find a solution and I’d like to thank them for their efforts to identify the funding available through the planning process which has given us the opportunity reassess the bus network in the area and develop these proposals.

“Importantly, these proposals would restore regular public transport to Sabden, and maintain other services in the area, without placing any further pressure on the county council’s increasingly stretched resources.”