Sunday, 24 October 2021

Campaign launched to save bus routes

A WOMAN from Henley has launched a campaign against bus cuts, which she says will rob elderly people of their independence.

A WOMAN from Henley has launched a campaign against bus cuts, which she says will rob elderly people of their independence.

Donna Crook is particularly concerned about her 87-year-old father Peter Roberts whom she says wouldn?t know how to use a taxi if his regular bus service was scrapped.

Oxfordshire County Council?s Conservative-controlled cabinet has voted to axe its £3.7million subsidised transport services budget.

This means that all 118 subsidised routes in the county are set to lose their funding and bus companies would have to decide whether they could afford to continue running the services.

Several services in Henley run by Thames Travel and Whites Coaches, including the buses to Wallingford and Woodcote and internal town services, will lose their £180,000 funding in October if the cuts are approved by the full council in February.

Mr Roberts, who has dementia, regularly takes the bus into Henley town centre from his home in Trust Corner.

Ms Crook, a part-time cleaner who runs her own craft business, said: ?The service is a lifeline to my dad. It?s a 30-minute walk from his house and if he had to get a taxi he wouldn?t know what he was doing.

?He?s quite elderly and lives by himself but at the moment he doesn?t need any help as I can manage everything. If the bus service stopped I would have to stop working and my dad would lose his independence.

?The council needs to keep it because otherwise older people won?t be able to get to town, where they spend their money, and will end up housebound and in need of care. There will be a massive care bill for older people like him who are no longer able to go out and about.

?I thought the council wanted to promote independence in your own home ? how can it do that and cut the bus service at the same time??

Ms Crook has started a petition calling for the subsidies to services in Henley and South Oxfordshire to be retained and more than 400 people have already signed it.

She has posted details of the campaign and petition on Facebook and tweeted a picture of Mr Roberts with a sign which reads: ?To OCC, please don?t cut my bus service. I need it to keep my independence.?

She said: ?We need to show that we aren?t going to put up with this. The council has stopped the funding for bus services in Oxfordshire which it says are not ?essential?. I think they are essential.

?I?ve had a lot of good responses. If the petition gets enough signatures the council will have to think again.?

Ms Crook suggested the council could consider removing free bus travel for pensioners on subsidised routes in order to help fund services.

She said: ?Some of the old people would be happy to pay the full fare, which could be a viable solution. It?s better to have something than nothing. Unpaid carers like me save the council a lot of money so actually scrapping the bus service could cost them more in the long term.?

Councillor David Nimmo Smith, cabinet member for transport, said: ?We are still looking at ways of running services.

?I?ve met with Whites to see what they can do to continue providing them and I hope something can be maintained in the area.

?Some services have a lot of use in the morning and late afternoon but not during the day, so what do the companies do with the drivers then?

?To be blunt, if more people used the buses they would all be commercial services. The fact is unless people use them we have had to subsidise them to make sure rural areas have services.?

The petition is available to sign at 15 businesses in Henley including the Hot Gossip coffee house in Friday Street, Tesco in Reading Road and Northfield End Stores.

Copies can also be found at Henley town hall and the Christ Church Centre in Reading Road, Gillotts School and the Corner Shop in Shiplake.

The online petition was set up with help from Dave McEwan, treasurer of environmental campaign group Henley in Transition.

Residents can also sign it at

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