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County bus blunder slammed by parish councillor
8:38am Thursday 6th February 2014 in News
A CHURCHILL and Blakedown parish councillor has said that Worcestershire County Council is "out of control" after it failed to spot that a bus service had been included by mistake in its public consultation.
Councillor Jim Long questioned how the 197 Hagley to Kidderminster bus, which goes through Blakedown, was included in the consultation in error.
The decision to stop the 197 from Friday, February 21 was made by the county council before the public consultation into the proposed cuts for public transport had ended.
A spokeswoman for the county council apologised for the "human error and any confusion it has caused".
Mr Long believes the council is trying to "cut corners" by ignoring consultation responses regarding the bus service and is calling for the council to hold fire until September, when changes to the other "at-risk" bus services will take place, so that other options can be considered.
He said: "If it is in error it shows just how out of control they [the county council] are. How seriously do we take the next consultation?"
Mr Long added that Conservative county councillor Stephen Clee also did not know that the bus service was included in error, as he attended a parish council meeting in December last year to encourage parishioners to respond.
Mr Clee said: "Regarding the 197, I can confirm a decision was taken to cease this service in September, 2011.
"After agreeing to keep it running, an alternative means of plugging the gap was found and Dial-a-Ride is one of those providers. "However, when the consultation started last year on the proposals to cease concessionary travel services, it was added to this round of consultation again and should not have been."
Bus user Mollie Thomas, 70, of Blakedown, said she had collected more than 60 signatures opposing the proposal after signs were displayed on the bus asking for responses.
She said: "We rely on the 197 to come round our estate and if it doesn't run we're going to be stuck.
"They weren't supposed to do anything until September. That's when it was supposed to be taken off but they made up their minds and it's going this month. I think it's disgusting that they're doing it."
A spokeswoman for the county council said: "Worcestershire County Council has been operating the 197 service since 2011, while alternative community transport arrangements were sought to be put in place.
"There was always an intention to replace the once-a-day service in February, which we have now done with community transport options through Wyre Forest Dial-a-Ride.
"We apologise for this human error and any confusion it has caused."
Wyre Forest Dial-A-Ride said it would welcome enquiries from anyone who was likely to be affected.
To contact Dial-A-Ride call 01562 755084 or email WyreForest@dial-a-ride86.freeserve.co.uk
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