Lib Dems spring aid villagers who fear cuts on Ely to Cambridge bus service

COUNTY councillors today voiced their support for villagers who fear they may lose their ‘life-line’ hourly bus service to Ely after Stagecoach decided to cut it back.

From June 10, the X9 will only call at Waterbeach and Landbeach in the early morning on its journey from Ely to Cambridge and late afternoon in the opposite direction. At other times it will stay on the A10 bypassing both villages.

At the same time, an hourly shuttle service between Cambridge and Milton will be extended to go through the villages to Waterbeach.

Lib Dems on the county council believe the combined effect will be that Waterbeach and Landbeach will have a similar frequency of buses to and from Cambridge but passengers will be unable to get to Ely and back in the same day.

“Elderly residents and those with young children who don’t drive and prefer to go to Ely for their shopping and personal business are worried that the decision will leave them cut off,” said a Lib Dem spokesman.

Waterbeach county councillor Michael Williamson has added his voice to the calls for a rethink and today raised the issue in a full Cambridgeshire County Council meeting.

He received assurances from Tony Orgee, the Tory Cabinet member responsible for bus services that he would write to Stagecoach urging a rethink.

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“I am very concerned about the loss of this service and pleased that the county council has listened and is adding its voice to the hundreds of villagers who have expressed their concerns,” said Cllr Williamson.

“Villagers rely heavily on this service and without it many would be isolated in their own homes.”

Mrs Margaret Patterson, 75, and her husband, Roland, 82, rely on the bus service to go into Ely once a week.

“My husband suffers from dementia and there is a good walk-in advice and help service in Ely,” said Mrs Patterson. “He has been given a driving licence for a year but he can only travel short distances and by November we will probably be entirely reliant on the buses.”

Mrs Patterson collected 200 signatures on a petition to Landbeach Parish Council and Stagecoach calling on the company to reconsider its decision.

“This bus service is a lifeline for people living in the villages,” she added. “Landbeach is a very small village with no services and we have to be able to get out.”

Lib Dems claim the loss of the X9 was first discovered by Maurice Leeke, Liberal Democrat activist in Waterbeach who stood as a candidate in the recent local elections.

He said: “There was no mention of the withdrawal of the Ely bus in Stagecoach’s announcement of their changes. It was only when I checked the details of the timetable that I spotted that the Cambridge to Ely buses during the day would sail past Waterbeach and Landbeach along the A10.

“After contacting Stagecoach to ask for an explanation I set about notifying local residents in a leaflet, and I have 90 names so far on my petition calling for the service to be retained. I have written to Stagecoach and asked them to reconsider.”