Bus linking Chepstow and Monmouth under threat of axe

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From The Monmouthshire Beacon - Thursday, 5 July 2018

THE proposed withdrawal of a much-used Monmouthshire bus service has drawn criticism from residents who rely on the service.

The Number 65 bus, which links Monmouth and Chepstow via the B4293, was due to be axed at the end of July, but this withdrawal has now been apparently postponed to allow for further consultation. Rosemary Corcoran, who has set up a petition against the closure, says the 65 service is “life changing for a lot of people”.

“I know a lot of people who use it for going to the shops, but also for doctor’s appointments. I’ll be the first to admit it’s not always busy, but it’s no less busy than the 69 which never seems to be under threat,” she says, adding that the 65 service serves more places than the 69.”

She believes there is “room for negotiation” over possible timetable changes, admitting that the council needs to save money. However she added she was frustrated about a lack of consultation with not only the passengers, but the drivers, who she adds are “brilliant” and “key to the service”.

An informal spokesperson against the withdrawal of the service, she has contacted Monmouth MP David Davies and AM Nick Ramsay, and adds she has been told by Mitchel Troy Councillor Richard John that the withdrawal has been postponed. She has also set up a paper petition which can be signed in Envee, Harts, Hair by Jones and Cafe Nero in Monmouth, or by signing a copy inside the bus itself.

The plans have also been criticised by Trellech United Community Council’s Dr Larry Stoter, who says the impact of the withdrawal would be “especially felt by the young, the elderly and those with health problems who are unable to drive.”

“This bus service provides the only regular public transport linking the many villages along the B4293 with Monmouth and Chepstow,” he said. “Its loss would further isolate rural communities where, unless you have and can drive a car, accessing shops, GPs and many other services is difficult or impossible. Its loss will further pressurise local village businesses, especially shops and pubs, struggling to survive.

“I’m sure MCC will cite increasing costs, the need to reduce expenditure and low passenger numbers. For those who regularly use the bus, however, it is an important, possible vital service." 

"Clearly the people involved in this decision making process do not have any knowledge of how many of the people they supposedly represent actually travel or live,” wrote Susan Watson in a letter to the Beacon this week. “Without a bus service we will have a situation where pets and animals are better cared for since vets can be contacted and called out 24 hours a day, seven days a week with deliveries of animal feed and needs being met by deliveries from a local business (in Gloucestershire of course).

Meanwhile, humans will be left unable to get to a surgery or buy any food they may need. Perhaps council tax should be paid by animals and quickly before the humans are too ill or hungry to avail themselves of what limited options are open to them.”

A spokesperson from MCC said: “The proposal to withdraw the No 65 Chepstow to Monmouth service was raised as a budget saving measure following our consultations last February and was agreed by council in its budget setting meeting in March.

“It was planned to withdraw the service at the end of July but we are currently evaluating passenger data and the impact on passengers before a final decision is taken.”