Cutbacks to a major Chesterfield bus route have left residents ‘stranded’ and unable to get home from work- prompting the launch of a petition to reverse the changes.
The 39 service, from Holme Hall to Grangewood Farm through Chesterfield, has been reduced in regularity during the day and has also seen its evening service cut completely after subsidies from Derbyshire County Council were withdrawn.
It comes after the Local Government Association warned council bus route subsidies across the UK were under threat due to the overall council funding gap, which is expected to exceed £50bn by 2020.
Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins says he has received complaints from residents who rely on the ‘vital’ Stagecoach-operated service to get home from work or socialise.
The MP, who is backing a petition against the cuts launched by Labour councillors and plans to deliver campaign leaflets to 3,000 homes in the town, also fears there are more cuts on the horizon.
He said: “My constituents are telling me that they can no longer get home from late shifts at work, cannot meet their friends or are concerned about their teenage children being able to get home at night.
“I have contacted Stagecoach regarding these changes and they have made it very clear that the tough choices they have had to make regarding services are due to reductions in funding from the local authority, and have also warned that further cuts to bus services in Derbyshire are going to be needed in the not too distant future when Derbyshire County Council further reduce their tendered service budget.”
A spokesman for Derbyshire County Council said: “Service 39 is a commercial service, with the council paying £24,000 a year previously towards some evening journeys.
“From 7.15pm our funding was a contribution towards one journey an hour with Stagecoach providing the other hourly journey without subsidy.
“In May the agreement for this funding ended and we decided not to renew it. The decision to reduce the daytime frequency and to withdraw some journeys later in the evening were commercial decisions made by Stagecoach.
“We continually review the bus services we support to ensure best value for money and to develop a long-term sustainable future for bus services. “We pledged to protect bus services countywide and this year we have committed to this by putting £2.4m back to support buses, reversing previous funding cuts.”