The crisis over Ludlow’s buses is growing daily.
I have spoken to Alan Radnor, owner of R&B buses this morning. He runs the current town bus services, the 701 and 722. He confirmed that, as reported in the press, the last town services will run on Saturday and has given the required formal notice of termination. The Transport Commissioners have also confirmed to the Shropshire Star that he has given the legal period of notice.
What happens next?
I rang Shropshire Council and was told that it is “not able to get involved” until the bus service stops running. After that, it will try to sort out a replacement service and that might take a week. This differs from the assurances in the Shropshire Star by Claire Wilde, the Conservative cabinet member in charge of buses, who says the council is prepared to “step in at short notice” to solve the problem.
Short notice? The Traffic Commissioners have confirmed that they have received the legal 56 days’ notice that bus operators have to give to cancel a service. That’s two months in which Shropshire Council has been sitting on its hands while elderly residents of Ludlow worry that they might not have any buses. I emailed Claire Wild last Friday asking what was happening. She did not have the courtesy to respond.
My enquiries to the Traffic Commissioners, who have a responsibility for bus service operation, have met a complete blank with no one on the switchboards knowing how to deal with the inquiry.
It seems that the residents of Ludlow, where one third of the residents are elderly, will not be able to use a bus to get to the shops, doctors or to visit friends from 27 January until perhaps 3 February. With the cold weather predicted to continue through next week, elderly and vulnerable people will be trapped in their homes, isolated from services and friends.
The town is seriously short of taxis which have to be booked days in advance.
Shropshire Council needs to get an urgent grip on the bus crisis in Ludlow. Next week we will be a town without buses. If flooding was threatened, the council would announce the contingency plans it has in place. When it comes to the buses, it is hiding its inaction behind bureaucratic excuses. It must put contingency plans in place now and reassure the people of Ludlow that they will have a continuing bus service from Monday, 27 January.
This bus crisis is nothing to do with financial cutbacks. It is a result of Shropshire Council mismanaging the local services and withdrawing subsidies. It is sticking its head in the sand and ignoring the growing transport crisis here in Ludlow.
Shropshire Council will spend £2,257,405 subsidising buses across the county in 2013/14. Ludlow is the only town that does not to receive any subsidies for its town buses from the council.
Our town is not getting a fair deal.
Actions you can take now:
If you live in Ludlow North, email your local councillor Rosanna Taylor-Smith.
If you live elsewhere in Ludlow, email me, Andy Boddington, and I’ll share your comments with Tracey Huffer and Viv Parry, your local councillors.