A rescue plan, that would put a bus back on the road in a village that was left without any public transport, could be drawn up within weeks.
Representatives of Ribble Valley Council, Lancashire County Council and Sabden Parish Council will meet in the next few days to consider funding a temporary bus service that will run for six months.
The temporary plan was drawn up after a meeting yesterday (Monday) between County coun. John Fillis and Paul McKenna, Michael Hardman and John Glenn who are representatives of Save Our Service, a protest group set up in the village to campaign to keep the bus on the road. The temporary service would run for six months and one of the permanent solutions on the table is for the county council to purchase a bus that would be run by an independent operator who would be responsible for insurance and runnning costs.
A spokesman for SOS said: “This is not what we have campaigned for but there does appear to be light at the end of the tunnel although there is still a lot to discuss.”
The axing of the service by Transdev after Lancashire County Council refused to pay a subsidy prompted anger and upset in the village and a fierce campaign was launched to reinstate the bus.
Residents claimed hundreds of people were left stranded including many elderly folk who relied solely on the bus along with students and workers who do not have access to cars. Dozens of protestors marched on county hall before a full meeting of Lancashire County Council in a bid to show the authority how hard the axing of the bus service had hit them.
Ribble Valley Labour campaigners have also called on Lancashire County Council and bus company Transdev to work together in the interests of Sabden residents.
Sabden resident and 2015 Labour candidate for the ward, Jo Barlow, implored County Councillor Fillis to reconsider the decision: “Sabden is not a typical rural Ribble Valley community. It is a working village with two schools, 1,300 adults and recently-built social housing developments and sheltered accommodation. Many of our residents rely on a regular bus service.”
“Yet it is now two-and- a-half miles along unlit, unpaved country roads to the nearest bus stop. Added to this, our position on the slopes of Pendle Hill means this is not just a stroll, it’s a hike. People with young children and elderly people can’t walk that far carrying their shopping and there is the ever-present danger of a fatal accident.
“This decision is damaging people’s lives,”
Ronald Corbin, chairman of the Labour Party Clitheroe Branch, backed her calls for co-operation, saying:“Our concern is for the people of Sabden, who, since the bus service ceased at the end of April, have been unable to go about their daily lives.
“We know that this is a result of Tory cuts being implemented by a Labour council, but making this into a political football isn’t going to help anyone. We need all groups to work together and do what is best for the people of Sabden.”