Petition of 1400 signatures handed to council bosses urging them to save vital bus service

Alan Dougall, Kathy Dougall and Patricia Manning hand in the petition at Shire Hall

Alan Dougall, Kathy Dougall and Patricia Manning hand in the petition at Shire Hall - Credit: Archant

A petition of more than 1000 signatures calling to save a ‘lifeline’ Fenland bus service has been handed in to council bosses.

The Stagecoach-run 46 bus between Wisbech and March was reprieved by Cambridgeshire County Council until the end of August, but currently runs at a reduced service.

Organisers of the 1400-strong petition from NE Cambs Labour Party presented it to the County Council economy and environment committee at Shire Hall last Thursday (May 24).

It calls for the bus route to be retained in its entirety and extended to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

NE Cambs Labour Party secretary, Kathy Dougall, attended with Patricia Manning, who instigated the petition to save the bus route, and Alan Dougall, from Wisbech Branch Labour Party.

They told councillors that the bus was a ‘life line for villages that had been earmarked for growth’ and provided a ‘vital link’ to local businesses and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Lynn.

A statement from the group highlighted the key issues which included:

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• Social isolation, which has a widely acknowledged knock on effect on our local health services, social services and the services of our local charities, which are already cash strapped.

• Inability of young parents to access child care facilities or schools.

• Higher levels of unemployment or underemployment.

• Closing of local independent businesses

• Environmental costs of extra traffic - pot holes etc.

After the meeting, Kathy said: “The Fenland Local Plan identifies public transport as key to achieving Fenland District Council’s aims for the future development of Fenland.

“It is even more important therefore that we prevent what has happened with Stagecoach happening again. We want to stop bus operators being able to cherry pick which routes they want to run.

“We need to bring bus franchising to rural bus routes, give local councils the power to make bus companies carry out that franchise and the funding to extend free travel to under 25s. It is time to put public need before private greed.”

The original 46 bus route ran hourly from March to Kings Lynn.

It connected the villages of Rings End, Guyhirn, Wisbech St Mary, Waterlees, West Walton, Walton Highway, Walpole Highway, Terrington St John and Tilney All Saints to each other and to the important Towns of Wisbech and March.