Elwick villagers handed a bus trial lifeline

From left, Coun Hilary Thompson, Sue Little and Coun Robbie Payne

From left, Coun Hilary Thompson, Sue Little and Coun Robbie Payne

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Paul’s Travel is launching an eight-week pilot scheme to provide transport for the residents of Elwick and Dalton Piercy, who have been without public transport since last spring.

Residents living in the Burbank area of Hartlepool will also benefit from the three-day-a-week service which will launch on Monday, February 6.

But people have been warned to use it or lose it.

The Oxford Road-based firm stepped in after bus companies axed daytime and evening services as a result of Hartlepool Borough Council removing its £287,000 supported bus services funding.

Bus companies said the routes were not viable to run, but it left villagers without public transport.

Now Paul’s Travel, which is run by Paul, 42, and Sue Little, is providing a 16-seater bus which will pick passengers up three days a week, three times a day.

Another bus could be called on if the 16-seater is full.

The bus will go from the villages to the town centre via Dunston Road, Ryehill Gardens, Tunstall Avenue, Grange Road, Victoria Road, Maritime Avenue, Schooner Court, Mainsforth Terrace and Burbank Street.

Independent Elwick councillor Hilary Thompson said: “I am delighted that Paul’s Travel has come on board to help.

“It will make a huge difference to the people of the villages if it gets up and running.”

Labour Stranton councillor Robbie Payne said: “I must stress if people do not use this service then we really are in last chance saloon.

“I can’t see anyone else stepping into the breach.”

He added: “We don’t want to be seen to be running before we can walk, but if this is successful then other parts of the town, like the Headland and Seaton Carew, could benefit.”

A single ticket from the villages is expected to cost £2, from the Ryehill Gardens area £1.50 and £1 from the Schooner Court area.

Residents with concessionary bus passes will still have to pay unless between £3,000 and £5,000 can be found to cover the cost of free travel.

Parish councils, supermarkets and housing associations are being approached to help with funding.

If the service is viable, Mrs Little will apply to the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) for the relevant licences to allow them to claim money back for concessionary travel from the council.

Mrs Little, 39, from Seaton Carew, said: “I would urge people to use this service.

“If they do not then I cannot afford to financially support it,” added the mum-of-three.

The exact timetable is still being finalised but it is expected to run on Mondays, Thursday and Fridays initially.

Elwick Parish Council has booked the minibus for the duration of the pilot scheme.

Anyone wishing to donate funding should call Coun Thompson on (01429) 272532 or Coun Payne on (01429) 222649.