Angry residents campaign to save 'vital' bus service

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Local residents are shocked and concerned to learn that a 'vital' bus service which currently runs between Wilmslow, Handforth and Stockport is being axed.

The Stagecoach 378 service will no longer operate in Cheshire East from April 23rd but will terminate at Grove Lane on the Stockport border, instead of travelling on to stop at Ollerton Road and The Green in Handforth before proceeding to Benson Walk, Holly Bank Road, Lacey Green and Bank Square.

A spokesperson for Stagecoach Manchester said: "Falling passenger numbers on the 378 service means it has become no longer sustainable for us to continue to run this service on the section of the route between Grove Lane, Stockport and Wilmslow. We apologise to our customers who are affected by this change. We have provided information to Cheshire Est Council who will be evaluating whether they can support a replacement service on this section of the route."

Councillor Barry Burkhill said "This service provides a lifeline for the elderly of these estates and without it our Cheshire East Residents would be isolated and vulnerable. The service is also important for residents who do not drive or prefer not to, to travel to and from their place of work. Everything possible should be done to keep bus services alive for both social and environmental reasons, particularly this one which covers a large area of the north of our Borough."

He added "The question has to be asked why it is to run within Stockport and not Cheshire East? I hope that the Leadership of Cheshire East Council will intervene forcefully in this situation so that our residents will continue to have this 378 bus service in the future."

A Cheshire East Council spokesman said: "Cheshire East Council has been informed by Stagecoach that they intend to cease operating the Grove Lane to Wilmslow section of their commercially operated 378 bus service within the borough from April 23, 2017.

"The Council is currently gathering information on the service and will issue a further statement shortly.

"Cheshire East provides supported services where there are major gaps in commercial bus networks across the borough.

"Currently, there are severe pressures on the limited resources available for local bus support. The Council will carefully consider the impact of the cessation of this service in accordance with the Council's policies on local bus support.

"This service was last part-subsidised by Cheshire East Council in 2012 for the evening service only."

Local residents were only made aware that this service is being terminated when Cynthia Samson, Chairman of Handforth Parish Council and Spath Lane Residents Association, contacted Cheshire East to chase up some bus stop improvements which were planned on Spath Lane. She was then told they weren't being done because the bus was being cancelled from 23rd April.

Janet Taylor has set up a petition to try 'Keep the vital 378 bus route to Wilmslow' which has collected 421 signatures so far.

Janet told wilmslow.co.uk "The reaction locally to the cancellation of the 378 bus route through Handforth to Wilmslow has been met with shock, worry and anger. Many people use this bus to get to work, school or college, one young resident from Stockport fears he will have to give up his job in Handforth if this goes ahead.

"As this bus passes through Spath Lane, Colshaw Farm and Lacey Green estates, it is a lifeline for many of the elderly and infirm as it means they can travel locally for shopping, banking, socialising etc even if they aren't able to walk very far. Removal of this bus service will leave these elderly residents housebound, Cheshire East simply cannot put vulnerable residents in this impossible situation. When you consider there is no disabled or buggy access to Handforth station platforms, it leaves this village and it's residents isolated."

In addition to the online petition, hard copies have been placed in various shops in Handforth and further copies will be placed in public buildings and elderly residencies.

Janet added "We will also be placing notices on the bus stops as neither Cheshire East nor Stagecoach have deemed this necessary even tho the termination of the bus service is little over a month away.

"It is essential that this information gets put to the wider Wilmslow community as I'm sure many people will not yet know about the situation.

"I believe providing funding for free bus passes for all available services is a statutory commitment, not an optional choice for Cheshire East."

The 378 bus service between Stockport, Handforth and Wilmslow was previously subsidised by Cheshire East Council at a cost of £23,156 per annum. However in 2012 it was amongst a list of services identified as 'low priority' and recommended for withdrawal of support.

The decision to stop subsidising the 378 service was taken by Cabinet at their meeting on 15th October 2012. At the time they approved a proposal to reduce or withdraw funding subsidies for bus services supported by Cheshire East Council, resulting in a saving of £750,000 per annum.

Photo credit Martin Vincent Photography.

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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Jackie Pass
Friday 17th March 2017 at 1:41 pm
This situation is clearly unacceptable. The 378 serves Spath Lane ,Colshaw Farm and Lacey Green estates. Along Dean Row Road it will leave just 1 bus service which operates once an hour - the 130.
Jackie Pass
Friday 17th March 2017 at 2:04 pm
Should be circa every 30 minutes - depending upon time of day.
Yvonne Howson
Friday 17th March 2017 at 6:36 pm
Absolutely disgraceful, especially for elderly and vulnerable people living away from the main roads. Elderly People on Lacey Green rely on this service to get to Wilmslow/Handforth to collect their pension and to shop and pay bills, also to visit the doctor. It is bad enough that these people have to stand in the wind and the rain at the bus stop because Lacey Green is also one of the few places not to have a single bus shelter! It is another case of fat cats on the Council in Macclesfield ignoring the needs of residents too far away from the Town Hall for them to care. When I lived on Lacey Green I often gave people a lift to the village to save them having to wait around in the cold. I suncerely hope Wilmslow Town Council will fight for this. I will watch with interest and hope.
Ade Whitaker
Saturday 18th March 2017 at 7:19 pm
This is bad news. The 130 bus timetable was slashed recently with half the services from Macclesfield now only going as far as Colshaw Farm. There is over an hour now, during peak morning rush hour, between services going from Wilmslow to Cheadle and Manchester. This has made it difficult for my eldest who relies on the bus for getting to college. Shortening the 378 route will further isolate Handforth and Wilmslow. The bus companies seem to be able to do what they want - slashing unprofitable routes and isolating people in more remote communities. We need a more joined up public transport policy.
Pete Taylor
Monday 20th March 2017 at 7:17 am
£30 million cut from the supported bus budget this year by the former chancellor as an austerity measure.
History will not forget his toxic actions.
Barry Buxton
Wednesday 22nd March 2017 at 5:17 pm
It's quite simple to understand: Use it or lose it!
Yvonne Howson
Wednesday 22nd March 2017 at 7:35 pm
It's not quite as simple as that Barry Buxton. Some people regularly use this bus service and have no alternatives. What baffles me is why the bus company sends a double decker bus on this route where a much smaller would suffice? The elderly and those with mobility issues rely on this service and will be isolated without it.
Janet Taylor
Wednesday 22nd March 2017 at 8:49 pm
I agree Yvonne, all pensioners were given free bus passes to enable them to keep their independence, over the years it has saved a great deal of social care funding, same for disabled residents. It is highly unlikely that these users are going to make a bus service viable but they are provided with passes for a reason, not for Stagecoach to remove public transport when it suits them.
Laurie Atterbury
Wednesday 22nd March 2017 at 9:13 pm
I agree with other posts; why a double decker when a smaller bus would match demand?