Village set for community bus boost

PUBLISHED: 11:44 31 October 2011

AN innovative new community bus service is to be piloted in Haddenham and Wilburton, it was announced this week

County councillors gave the green light for a new network of bus routes across the county run by local charities and entrepreneurs and Haddenham and Wilburton were chosen as one of the trial routes.

The service, which could start as early as January, will see a franchisee given access to a minibus which will then be used to fulfil a council contract, such as school or hospital runs.

When the bus is not in use for council contracts, it will be available for private routes and timetables, as decided by the franchisee.

Councillors say that the new community-run scheme will be better suited to respond to local needs and won’t rely on large council subsidies.

Cllr Bill Hunt, county councillor for Haddenham and Wilburton, said: “The idea is to try and get the local community involved in the transport system.

“We can’t afford to have huge double-decker buses travelling around the county with only four people on costing the council thousands in subsidies, so we feel that this is a more efficient and effective way of working.

“I’m very optimistic that in the long term, the Haddenham scheme will be viable and will benefit the community.”

Cllr Hunt said the county council would be working closely with Haddenham Parish Council throughout the scheme but added that the parish would not be left to pick up the bill if the scheme proved unsuccessful.

The new initiative was dreamt up by Cambridgeshire County Council after the authority opted to scrap £3million worth of cuts to subsidies for buses across the county.

Cllr Hunt added that no more cuts to bus subsidies would be made unless there were alternative solutions, such as community bus routes, in place.

“We don’t want to leave villages without a link to the outside world,” he said.

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