We need some bus alternatives

Joseph Bulmer

SIR - Many people across our rural communities are apprehensive about the proposed cuts to transport services as part of the Devon County Council budget - especially where people are dependent on council-supported services to get to work or to reach services in nearby towns.

Sadly, direct protests to DCC will be of no effect. The budget for 2011/2012 has now been set (at �1.35 million less than 2010/11 for transport subsidy) and any changes to the proposals will require cuts elsewhere.

The community will need to explore alternative sources of funding or provision. The first port of call should be to call on parish councils to take the lead in supporting local action groups to do that exploring.

Unless something is done, rural people may be faced not only with “eat or heat” choices, but could also have to decide whether to spend money on taxis rather than food or fuel.

For example, those on route 372 (Parkham, Littleham, Buckland Brewer, Putford, Bradworthy) will be able to reach NDDH around 11.45am, for a hospital appointment, but will need to get back to Barnstaple bus station by 1.30pm for the last return journey.

Any late running by a consultant could mean a taxi fare. Rural living certainly will not be either cheap or convenient.

The services between Bideford and Barnstaple are deemed “commercial” routes and receive no subsidy from DCC.

Anyone wishing to follow up on options for rural transport can contact me by post at 73 Victoria Gardens, Bideford EX39 2BA or by e-mail to alanr555@waitrose.com

Alan Rayner, chairman of Devon Senior Transport Group.