Angry villagers take bus cuts protest to County Hall

Photo Neil Cross
Margaret Hunt and her daughter Christine Taylor with Sabden sheltered accommodation residents are devastated that their only bus service to the village has been axed

Photo Neil Cross Margaret Hunt and her daughter Christine Taylor with Sabden sheltered accommodation residents are devastated that their only bus service to the village has been axed

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Angry and upset Sabden villagers who feel abandoned and betrayed are staging a protest outside County Hall in Preston today against the “cruel” axing of their bus service.

Since Transdev cut Sabden from its bus route at the end of April, following Lancashire County Council refusing to pay a subsidy, many people are stranded. They are three miles from the nearest town, on unlit roads with no footpaths, and say they are becoming increasingly isolated. The bus service axing has already meant:

● Some people are having to sell their homes and move;

● Students are struggling to get to college for vital exams;

● Workers are struggling to get to work – and some fear they may lose their jobs;

● People are having to pay expensive taxi fares to go shopping and attend hospital and medical appointments;

● Social housing tenants are asking for transfers away from Sabden;

● Young people are having to walk along dangerous roads with no footpaths;

● Elderly people feel like prisoners in their own homes and their health is suffering.

Meanwhile some taxi firms have increased their fares to the village – meaning people are having to pay around £8 to Whalley and Padiham, £10 upwards to Clitheroe and £12 upwards to Burnley.

One mum of three who paid £20 for a weekly bus pass to get to work in Langho, will now have to pay £80 a week just to get to the nearest bus stop.

Today villagers of all ages will be outside County Hall from noon to lobby councillors before the 1-30pm full meeting of Lancashire County Council when Conservatives are tabling a motion to have the Sabden service brought back.

The protest has been organised by SOS – a “Save Our Service” steering group formed by volunteers determined to fight the cuts because they say councillors do not realise the true extent of the effect on people’s lives. They are asking councillors to think again and give them a reduced bus service. Residents are upset that the service they previously used from Clitheroe to Burnley still runs through Read and Simonstone – but no longer comes through Sabden – a saving that would appear to be minimal. Volunteers have carried out a house-to-house survey to get the true facts because they are concerned that passenger number figures used by the decision makers are misleading because they do not record all passengers, such as those using weekly and student passes.