Saved and lost – Ludlow’s bus services to Kidderminster and Hereford

There are mixed feelings in Ludlow with the news that the 192 bus service to Kidderminster will be saved but the 492 bus to Hereford will no longer serve the town except for the school run.

Richard Huffer, Shropshire Councillor for Clee, has been lobbying hard for the service from Kidderminster, through Cleobury Mortimer and Clee Village to be retained. The 192 is a vital service for people who live in Cleobury and Clee, and the villages in between, who need to get to the shops, go to school and college, and to visit their friends.

Although Worcestershire Council has cut its bus subsidy from £3 million to £1 million a year, it has been able to keep its core network of buses going. That means the 292 will continue running at a similar level to the current service, though there will be some minor timetable revisions from September.

This is very good news indeed in this time of heavy cuts which seem to hitting rural areas harder than elsewhere.

The news about the 492 service between Ludlow and Hereford is not so good.

I am really quite shocked that we are to lose this popular service after August. The plan is that the 492 will renumbered the 490 and run from Leominister to Orleton and then turn back without servicing Ludlow. The bus will only come to town to drop off and pick up college students. There will be no service to Ludlow at all at weekends and during the school vacations.

This bus brings a lot of people into town, not just from villages in Herefordshire, but also from Overton, Batchcott and Richard’s Castle. These settlements will have no bus service at all, except for the school run which is not convenient for many people. The route is also popular with walkers and with visitors who use the new Ludlow Touring Park at Overton.

I asked Claire Wild, the portfolio holder for transport if Shropshire Council would fund the final five miles into Ludlow. Council officers replied (below) that it does not currently subsidise the 492 and it is not prepared to do so in the future. It is shocking that Shropshire Council has made no contact with Herefordshire Council to discuss cooperating on retaining this service.

If we cut off villages from bus services, they will just become settlements of holiday homes and wealthy weekenders. We will lose the mix of people that makes villages vibrant and alive.


Response from council officers

Further to your recent mail concerning the withdrawn elements of the Herefordshire 492 service, and your request that Shropshire Council considers subsidy to replace lost services;

As you will be aware, the 492 service is operated under a sole Herefordshire contract, and there were no cross border funding arrangements with Shropshire Council for the element that operated inside our area. The service has been reviewed and reduced unilaterally, based on Herefordshire’s need to meet their own savings target.

Whilst all such reductions in service are regrettable, I am sure that you will be aware of the considerable pressures that Shropshire Council faces on its own bus subsidy budgets. I am pleased to be able to say that at this time, there have been no such service reviews within Shropshire, and that savings are being achieved with minimal or no impact on the wide range of services that remain subsidised across the Shropshire.

Due to these pressures however, and the fact that the 492 service falls outside of our agreed minimum network in the Shropshire Bus Strategy 2011/16, we are unable to consider increasing our spend on local bus services.

For those Ludlow (Shropshire) residents looking to get out to the area for leisure purposes however, the Shropshire Council subsidised Ludlow Traveller may be the best service to approach? More details and availability are available through :

https://travelshropshire.co.uk/media/134945/the_ludlow_traveller_handout.pdf

For those Orleton (Herefordshire) residents looking to come to Ludlow, there may be similar ring to ride services available to them as well:

https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/media/6795443/travel_links_final.pdf

I hope the above is of help, and that the reasons why Shropshire Council is unable to replace the 492 service at this time are more clear.