Helen Morgan MP, North Shropshire Liberal Democrats

Government fails to answer questions on Shropshire bus cuts


16th May 2022

The Government failed to offer any plans to improve bus services in Shropshire when grilled on the issue by MP Helen Morgan in the House of Commons.

The Lib Dem MP for North Shropshire questioned minister Michael Gove on what his Government is doing to help people access public transport and asked him to explain why Shropshire has repeatedly been snubbed for Levelling Up funding.

Helen pointed out that Market Drayton is losing its only weekend bus service and that its high street is struggling to recover from the pandemic and yet the town has received nothing from the towns fund or from the Government’s ‘bus back better’ fund.

Recent cuts to Arriva bus services have left many people without access to transport they relied on. For example a reduction to the number 53 timetable in Oswestry means that staff at the Derwen College in Gobowen who use public transport are forced to arrive late, use taxis or walk long distances to work (see case study below).

Helen asked cabinet ministers what plans the Government has to level up rural towns like those in North Shropshire, only to be told to speak to Shropshire Council about bus services.

Junior minister Kemi Badenoch said answers lay with the council, despite the fact the Conservative-run authority has been repeatedly snubbed for levelling up cash.

Meanwhile Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, chose not to shed light on why Shropshire had been overlooked for levelling up money and instead use the opportunity to praise Conservative-run Shropshire Council. That is despite the fact council leaders have previously criticised Mr Gove’s department for ignoring Shropshire’s bids for funding.

Helen Morgan said: “Levelling up simply does not seem to apply to rural communities like North Shropshire.

“The Government continues to take everyone here for granted as it ignores our county and repeatedly overlooks its need for support.

“There is no clearer example of this than a Government minister praising Shropshire’s Conservative councillors just weeks after refusing the same councillors’ requests for funding.

“As the Conservatives focus on scoring political points, my constituents are sat worrying about losing their jobs because they can no longer get to work on time. And that’s before further cuts are introduced.

“The Government ought to be far more transparent about how it allocates funding and explain why it does not seem to care about rural areas like Shropshire.

“Meanwhile I will of course continue to work with the council and Arriva to try and find solutions. Indeed I have a meeting with the bus company lined up and have recently written to Councillor Cecilia Motley about the deteriorating situation both in Market Drayton and across the rest of the constituency. I requested a meeting with the council but have not had a response.”

CASE STUDY – DERWEN CARE SUPPORT WORKER

Ben Leonard is a 36-year-old care support worker at the Derwen College in Gobowen and lives three miles away in Oswestry.

He relied on the 53 bus between Oswestry and Ellesmere which was one of numerous services cut by Arriva in April.

He used the bus to get to work when on a day shift – but now the only option via public transport gets him in late.

Meanwhile there is no bus back home after working the night shift, meaning he is forced to walk three miles home.

Helen Morgan has been contacted by other support workers who now fear for their jobs as a result of not being able to commute to work on time.

Ben Leonard said: “The cuts to the Arriva service mean I now get in late to work when on the early shift and have to walk three miles home after working a night shift.

“What’s particularly annoying is that there were always people on the 7am buses going between Oswestry and Ellesmere going to college, work and school and yet they’ve still been cut.

“It is very frustrating that they are removing buses when the amount of public transport should be increased not decreased. With petrol going up and climate change an impending threat, public transport should be far more widely available.”

 

 

 


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