Residents ‘cut off’ by plans to axe vital bus services

Councillor Scott Dickinson at the bus stop next to the shops in Hadston.
Councillor Scott Dickinson at the bus stop next to the shops in Hadston.

THE axing of a vital bus service will leave communities isolated and vulnerable residents cut off, angry councillors have said.

The criticism follows news that the 20/X20 will no longer serve Hadston Square and Amble Links Estate, which Arriva says is due to ‘low usage’.

It comes as part of planned changes for the company’s bus network in north Northumberland, and the alterations are due to come into effect next month.

But it has been slammed by Coun Scott Dickinson and Coun Robert Arckless, who believe it will have a severe impact.

Coun Scott Dickinson, who is the chairman of East Chevington Parish Council, said: “I am saddened, disappointed and dismayed at the final decision to remove the number 20 service coming into Hadston, which connects residents to Ashington, Amble, Widdrington and areas along the route.

“The decision has been made without consultation and will now cut off residents, such as the elderly, who can’t walk the distance to the only collection stop in our area.

“Our area for some of the most vulnerable, elderly and disabled users has now been cut off preventing them for getting around, impacting on work and social activities.

“There has been a systematic decimation of services that will have a detrimental impact on the community.

“I have never been contacted so much by residents and they feel they have yet again been unfairly treated.”

He claimed that neither Arriva nor Northumberland County Council had consulted on the issue, which he described as “deeply concerning”, and called for a rethink of the changes.

Coun Robert Arckless, ward member for Amble, said he had been in touch with both the county council and Arrvia about the cut.

He added: “I am absolutely furious about what Arriva is doing.

“They are cutting adrift a sizeable number of their own perspective passengers, leaving the Links Estate totally isolated.

“I don’t think Arriva has the first idea what a huge difference it will make to the quality of life to some of the most vulnerable people.

“It is appalling. It is a well-used service and people at the Links Estate badly depend on it. I am really worried.”

The decision to cut the service from Hadston Square and the Links Estate was not taken lightly, according to Arriva North East Area Managing Director Nick Knox.

He said: “From February 3, we will be making some changes to the 20/X20 to improve reliability on these routes.

“These changes will see us provide customers with a faster and more reliable service between Amble and Ashington, and on into Newcastle. Unfortunately, it will mean that the few passengers that were using the service in the Links Estate and Hadston Square areas will no longer be directly served.

“As a local bus operator it is essential that we provide a reliable service for our passengers.

“This decision was not taken lightly, with detailed consultation throughout the decision-making process to try to identify other options. We are receptive to further suggestions.”

A county council spokeswoman said “These changes are a commercial decision by Arriva and out of the control of Northumberland County Council.”