Tatton MP Esther McVey is calling on local residents to make their voices heard and let Cheshire East Council know if they want to keep the subsidised bus services.
Esther McVey met with Cynthia Samson, Chair of Handforth Parish Council, and local campaigner Julie Smith on Monday, 31st July to discuss the lack of buses in Handforth along with a number of other concerns including the relocation of a number of their outpatients services from Handforth Health Centre and better access for Handforth Station.
Esther McVey said "There used to be one the 378 which went from Stockport to Wilmslow but no longer and that bus has been a lifeline for many people, whether it's getting to school, getting to work, going to the local village, picking up prescriptions.
"Many people now feel isolated that they don't have a bus."
The Stagecoach 378 service stopped operating in Cheshire East on April 23rd and now terminates at Grove Lane on the Stockport border.
D & G Bus launched a new commercial 378 service on April 24th, to partially replace the Stagecoach service, running from Wilmslow's Bank Square, through Lacey Green and Handforth to Handforth Dean Retail Park. However, it did not cover the Colshaw Farm Estate or operate at weekends or evenings, and was axed after a 12 week trial period. The last day of operation was Friday 14th July.
Speaking at the time Chris Almond, bus network manager for D & G Bus, said "We've decided to cancel the service as not enough passengers are using it and it isn't making enough money to cover its costs."
Julie Smith organised a petition in April, along with Janet Taylor, which collected 3700 signatures from people calling for the bus service to remain.
She told wilmslow.co.uk "The 378 service is a lifeline for many elderly and vulnerable people as for most it is the only means they have of doing shopping, visiting doctors surgeries, collecting medicines and using banking services. These are vital services to many residents which they now are unable to carry out.
"The service was also the only means for people to get to Stockport or Wilmslow as the railway station at Handforth is inaccessible to a lot of elderly people, disabled people and people with young children and/or pushchairs. This was another of the issues we discussed with Esther."
Cheshire East Council has recently consulted local residents regarding their proposals to cut their subsidised bus services in order to save more than £1.5m - which represents a 43% saving on the current annual supported bus service budget.
The proposed changes to local services include reducing the 88 Knutsford to Wilmslow to Altrincham bus from a half hourly to an hourly service, with all journeys serving Morley Green (currently Morley Green is served every hour rather than half hourly like Bank Square and Wilmslow Rail Station).
Additionally the Council is proposing to cut support for the 200 service from Wilmslow to Manchester Airport which passes through Styal.
The Council is also proposing to discontinue running buses on evenings and Sundays, as these are the least used of the subsidised services. This would result in cutting support for the Sunday 130 service which travels Macclesfield to Alderley Edge, Wilmslow and Manchester. The 130 weekday daytime services are provided commercially so they have not been considered as part of the Supported Bus Service Review.
Esther McVey said "The bus consultation came to an end on the 26th of July but people have contacted me to say they weren't aware of it and others to say it was a complicated consultation process so my advise is writing to Cheshire East to make sure your voice is heard."
She added "So what we got to do is make sure Cheshire East really see the value in subsidised routes and make sure this local community has their bus back."
"For more information on this issue and to raise any concerns about anything that is affecting you and your community please get in touch with me."
Julie Smith said "We have local, elected, paid representatives who are charged with addressing residents concerns however, they seem to be otherwise occupied with the details of the Local Plan which is due to be delivered in 2030. In my opinion the more immediate issues we face in this community should take priority. There are hundreds of thousands of pounds of Section 106 money available for Handforth, some of it dating back 20 years which could be reallocated to address some of the problems. Why is this money not being utilised?
She added "We are constantly being told that Cheshire East have no money hence the reductions in services , yet last week your publication reported that last year £265,000 was spent on the Tour of Britain passing through Wilmslow and also that £300,000 has been ringfenced for the same event next year. On what planet is it acceptable to squander tax payers money in this way?
"Following our meeting with Esther McVey we were confident that she seems to understand our concerns and will endeavour to address them on our behalf. I guess we'll just have to watch this space!"