Councillor confident of travel club plan

Coun Hilary Thompson

Coun Hilary Thompson

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A SENIOR councillor is “confident” plans for a new travel club will get off the ground.

Independent councillor Hilary Thompson, who represents the Elwick ward on Hartlepool Borough Council, has been working behind the scenes to resolve the ongoing transport problems.

Coun Thompson has spoken with representatives from East Durham Communicare and is also in talks with council officers about setting up a travel club.

It would see residents sign up to the club and pay for the bus journeys they take.

Coun Thompson said: “People just feel they can’t live here if they can’t go anywhere.

“It is really starting to hit home and people are feeling isolated and cut-off from their friends and family in town.

“We have a good mixed community, but it won’t be like that in years to come.”

But the Elwick representative – who said transport problems are as much an issue for younger people as pensioners – is confident the new travel club will go-ahead.

Coun Thompson said: “Discussions over the travel club are ongoing, but I am confident it will happen.

“There are times when the yellow fleet of buses are not in use.”

All cabinet members – including Coun Thompson – voted in favour of the budget proposals, which included axing the supported bus services, put to full council last year.

Coun Thompson said: “It was a difficult decision to make, but it was the bus companies that decided to stop running the routes.

“The council has had its budget cut so much that we could no longer pay massive bus subsidies.

“I hope people realise that I am working hard to restore a service.”

The budget proposals were unanimously backed by all 37 members present at the full council.

Coun Thompson will meet with council officers and Pamela Hargreaves, portfolio holder for transport and neighbourhoods, to discuss the travel club in mid-February.