‘Make rural buses a priority’, county told

Craven Herald: Councillor Polly English Councillor Polly English

Priority should be given to saving a subsidised rural bus route vital to the economy of Upper Wharfedale, councillors have proposed.

Of the three services facing the axe in Craven, councillors on Craven Area Committee agreed that highway bosses should look again at financing the 74 Grassington to Ilkley route.

The committee, meeting at Grassington Town Hall on Thursday, heard that loss of the service could sever a lifeline to the wider community for elderly people and undermine the tourist trade.

Voices from the hall also spoke out in favour of continuing the subsidy for the hilly No 73 Skipton-Greenacres circular service saying any loss would isolate many elderly people people without cars.

North Yorkshire County Council is proposing to remove subsidies from bus routes 72/72R Buckden, Hebden, Grassington-Skipton, 73 Skipton-Greenacres and 74 Grassington Ilkley.

The proposal, which could lead to the loss of the services, comes as North Yorkshire is looking to save £1.1m on its public transport subsidy.

Consultation has already ended but the plan will be discussed by the county council’s scrutiny commitee today before a final decision is made on January 4.

The proposals amount to about £1.5m in cuts which means there is room to make changes, councillors were told.

About 70 members of the public packed the hall. Speaking for them John Wain, said: “This decision has both an economic and social dimension and is not just about transport.

“The buses not only provide a lifeline service for locals but important incoming tourists and walkers who provide a main pillar for the local economy.

“These proposed cuts will bring about a forced ‘foot & mouth’ situation to the Yorkshire Dales.”

People were also concerned about how cuts in services would impact on the future of Upper Wharfedale School at Threshfield.

Councillor Polly English (Lib Dem) said: “It’s imperative we retain the 74 service. With the Tour de France arriving here, more people will be seeing this area on television and wanting to travel here in the future. We need this service to keep tourism alive.”

To a round of applause she added: “We’ve already lost the Skipton to Harrogate service, how much more isolated do we want Skipton to become?”

The proposals have already attracted a petition of 574 names opposing the plans and were the subject of a public meeting called by Grassington Chamber of Trade on November 4.

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