Councillors pledge to save ‘lifeline’ bus service for Hartlepool villages

CONCERNS: Members of the public at a meeting about the bus service.
CONCERNS: Members of the public at a meeting about the bus service.

A BUS service described as a lifeline for villagers is set to be saved for another year after new funding was pledged.

Managers for the number 65 service run by Hartlepool firm Paul’s Travel warned pick ups in Elwick after the parish council withdrew £2,500.

The parish council had also indicated financial support from the area’s borough councillors, worth £3,000, was to be withdrawn.

The 16-seater has become a lifeline for many elderly residents who do not have a car after Hartlepool Borough Council removed its £287,000 supported bus services cash in 2011 causing Stagecoach to axe several unprofitable services.

Elwick and Dalton Piercy on the outskirts of Hartlepool, were hardest hit leaving people effectively stranded before Paul’s Travel stepped in in 2012.

But at a meeting in Hartlepool Central Library arranged by Sue Little, of Paul’s Travel, to discuss the service’s future, councillors pledged enough money from their ward budgets to safeguard the service for another year.

Rural West ward councillor Ray Martin-Wells said: “We never said to the parish council we weren’t going to support it.

“As long as we get our ward budgets we will continue to support the service however that runs.

“If we only get £1,000 each we do feel this is important and we will continue to give that.”

Elwick parish councillor Roderick Thompson told the meeting the parish council needed to spend a lot of money on work in the village.

He said: “We simply haven’t got the funds to do it for the next financial year.

“We took that decision with a very heavy heart.”

But Hart ward councillor Paul Beck said he and Coun Jean Robinson would pledge £1,000 each from their ward budgets to the service if they were re-elected in May.

The bus also stops at Egerton Road, in West Park, and Hartfields Retirement Village on its route to Hartlepool town centre.

Coun Beck said: “We will not stand by and see what is a vital service go to the dust.”

Hartfields resident Brian Topliss said: “It would be a serious set back to all the people who use this present service.

“I think it is a vital service.”

The councillors’ support meant Paul’s Travel would be just £500 short of the funding it needed to continue.

Coun Martin-Wells added: “We will put that in if that secures the service.”

But he urged those at the meeting to spread the word about the bus to increase passenger numbers.

Afterwards Sue said: “I’m really pleased, more pleased for the residents than for me.

“I had to keep on providing the service for them.”

The service also receives funding from Hartfields owners the Joseph Rowntree Trust.

Dalton Parish Council, which last year gave £1,000, will discuss its contribution at a meeting on Monday night.