Residents feature in bus cuts report

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A SENIOR MP has praised Hartlepool residents for helping to shape a national report highlighting the impact bus cuts had on communities.

Hartlepool was pin-pointed as one of the worst affected areas in the House of Commons cross-party Transport Select Committee report.

The report warned that cuts to bus services are threatening the most vulnerable in society.

Hartlepool features heavily with several residents quoted and town MP Iain Wright said that was “incredibly unusual”.

The committee, which looked into the funding of bus services outside of London, was chaired by Labour MP Louise Ellman, who represents Liverpool Riverside.

Mrs Ellman told the Mail: “We received a lot of information from people in Hartlepool which demonstrated the problems caused by the withdrawal of local bus services.

“The information was very dramatic, which showed the impact it had.

“Often bus services are not mentioned nationally, but they are vital to communities and this report has helped give the issue some national attention.”

Mrs Ellman, who hopes the report will spark a debate in the House of Commons, added: “Hopefully this will make the Government think again about planned cuts.

“I would like to thank the people of Hartlepool who gave us the information and also Iain Wright who worked to raise the concerns of his constituents in a national report.”

The impact of bus cuts in town was first raised in the House of Commons by Mr Wright in March this year.

He was asked by committee members to encourage residents to take part in the study by submitting their own experiences.

Mr Wright said: “The committee has really taken on board the views of residents.

“I read select committee reports all the time and for Hartlepool to be highlighted in a national survey in this way is incredibly unusual.”

The inquiry into the funding of bus services outside of London was launched in November 2010.

It found that by June this year, more than 70 per cent of local authorities in England had decided to reduce funding for supported bus services.

Earlier this year Hartlepool Borough Council axed £287,000 from the supported bus service budget for routes that operators say are not commercially viable.

The decision left people in Elwick and Dalton Piercy, on the outskirts of town, and in the Burbank areas cut off. Routes affected included the 516 Tees Valley Coach service and Stagecoach 518 service, as reported by the Mail.

l MP writes: Page 32