20th July 2022
North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan is tabling a new law in Parliament which would make sure people living in market towns can access hospitals and GPs by public transport every day of the week.
It comes after new research revealed that Market Drayton and Whitchurch are among the worst towns of their size in the country for bus services – and that only one bus route operates in the whole of Shropshire on Sundays.
The Lib Dem MP will put forward a bill in the House of Commons today (WEDS) which would make the Government responsible for ensuring that every town with a population of over 10,000 has bus services that connect people with hospitals and GP surgeries running each day of the week.
Helen Morgan MP said: “It is staggering that it is 2022 and yet the people of North Shropshire are forced to fork out for a taxi to access something as basic as a GP appointment if they do not drive.
“If you live in a rural area and need to get to hospital there are no direct buses, no trains and ambulances are taking hours to reach people.
“It’s hard enough getting around on a weekday - particularly if you live in Market Drayton or Whitchurch, let alone a rural village – but on a Sunday if you don’t own a car you’ve no choice but to stay at home.
“This Conservative Government’s neglect has led to a lethal combination where if a suspected cancer patient is lucky enough to be offered an appointment they have no way of getting there.”
Market Drayton and Whitchurch are both in the bottom 10 per cent of towns of their size when it comes to the number of departures each weekday, new analysis by the House of Commons Library shows.
The average number of departures in English towns with a similar population (10,000-20,000 people) is 306 each weekday, however Drayton has an average of 74 departures and Whitchurch just 66.
And on a Sunday there are no bus services in these towns at all – a particular blow given Market Drayton has no train station and the station in Whitchurch only has one accessible platform.
Indeed there is only one bus route running in the whole of the Shropshire Council area on a Sunday – the Number 2 service between Oswestry and Wrexham.
Helen Morgan added: “This is yet more clear evidence that levelling up does not apply to rural areas like North Shropshire. Here families face no choice but to spend grocery money on filling up their car because that’s the only way they can get to school or the nearest clinic. The same families who must wait four hours or longer for an ambulance if someone suffers a heart attack.
“Despite this, the Government has ignored every funding bid the county has put in – including a request for millions of pounds to improve the dire bus services – because the Conservatives do not care about rural areas.”
The research also reveals that 247 bus routes have shut across the West Midlands in the past five years.
And it shows that Shropshire has the worst Sunday bus provision when compared to three neighbouring counties and Cornwall, which has a similar profile to Shropshire, even when population is taken into account.
Cornwall has 1.7 bus departures per 1,000 people on a Sunday, Staffordshire has 1.2, Herefordshire has 0.8 and Powys has 0.8. For Shropshire the figure is rounded down to 0.0 as there is just one route with 16 departures for more than 325,000 people.
The full title of the bill is as follows:
Bill to place a duty on the Government to ensure that every town with a population of more than 10,000 people has a regular bus service operating seven days a week, and that local health services, including hospitals and GP surgeries, are served by those buses; and for connected purposes.