Decisions to save two bus services in Ellesmere Port and Neston are just the ticket with campaigners.
MP Justin Madders (Lab) has welcomed confirmation by the borough council that the 272 running between Neston and Ellesmere Port, said to be ‘vital’ and the no 7 in the town itself are to be subsidised.
In a shock move described as ‘outrageous’, Aintree Coaches announced the withdrawal of the 272 with effect from July 21.
The service offered nine trips Monday to Friday from Neston to Ellesmere Port via Hooton with seven return journeys.
Neston’s AMA CH64 news site said the decision would affect a ‘large number’ of Neston residents particularly those who relied on the service to get to work, college and leisure facilities in the Ellesmere Port area.
As well as serving bus passengers the route was said to be the only way for many commuters from Neston to reach Hooton railway station, described as a ‘vital link’ between the town and the cities of Liverpool and Chester and beyond.
With the service taking in the nearby village of Willaston, local borough councillor Myles Hogg (Con, Willaston and Thornton) argued the service should be saved even if a partial subsidy was needed.
“Willaston is poorly served by public transport and the loss of the 272 would be catastrophic for the local residents who rely on it at present,” he said.
Mr Madders, who described the announcement as ‘outrageous’, pointed out that bus users in Ellesmere Port faced the loss of the service between the two towns as well as the no 7 connecting Overpool and parts of Great Sutton to Ellesmere Port town centre.
The MP argued: “A number of young people from Neston who go to college in Ellesmere Port would be impacted as would those commuting to Liverpool or Ellesmere Port for work.
“Older people who travel between the dispersed communities of Hooton, Willaston, Childer Thornton, Little Sutton and the leisure and retail opportunities in Ellesmere Port would also be impacted.
“Meanwhile, the withdrawal of the number 7 would leave many older people isolated as they would find it much more difficult and expensive to access shops, banks and health service.”
Mr Madders has been campaigning alongside councillors Louise Gittins (Lab, Little Neston and Burton) and Paul Donovan (Lab, Sutton) and Neston Town Council for the continuation of the services.
He has now revealed Stagecoach has agreed to continue with the no 7 service in the Rivacre area of the town although no commercial operators have come forward to operate the remainder of the route or the 272.
But following his intervention and that of Cllr Gittins, who is also the deputy leader of the council, the service will now be subsidised.
The 272 will operate to a revised timetable providing journeys every 90 minutes in each direction. The revised service will pick up at Brook Street in Neston and follow the same route as at present to the Red Lion in Little Sutton.
From there peak hour journeys will operate on the A41 and Sutton Way with remaining daytime journeys running via the A41, Ascot Drive, Seacombe Drive and Loxdale Drive to Ellesmere Port bus station replacing part of the no 7 route abandoned by Aintree.
The MP said: “I was deeply concerned when news broke that the service was to be discontinued, but following an active campaign including a petition signed by hundreds of local people I am delighted that the services have been saved.
“Fortunately, Cheshire West and Chester Council listened to the concerns of residents and acted very quickly.
“I am sure this news will come as a huge relief to everyone who relies upon the service. We heard countless stories of how the services were a lifeline for work, education or just accessing services.
“We now need to make sure the services are regularly used so we don’t end up in this position again.”