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  1. Published on: 09/07/2019 11:15 AMReported by: roving-eye
    Councillors in Southport have described themselves as "unimpressed so far" after meeting with Arriva to discuss proposed bus route changes.

    Labour's three Norwood councillors, Carran Waterfield, Mhairi Doyle and Greg Myers, have been campaigning to make residents aware of the bus plans and gather their views on the proposals which will see the end of the 46a route in the town, changes to the 44, and a number of other alterations across Sefton.

    They were joined by Kew councillor Sean Halsall, who is also a bus driver for Arriva, for the meeting with the company's Southport General Manager, Gerry O'Leary, and senior local staff.

    The councillors put forward residents' concerns about the route closure and the impact it would have. Councillor Waterfield, who has been collating residents' responses, explained:

    "A number of people rely on these services, some have health issues which mean removing the service will cause them considerable problems, severely limiting their mobility. Several local businesses have also told me that they fear they will be adversely affected by the 46a closure.

    A major concern is the increased isolation this closure will inflict on residents too as it will severely limit travel opportunities for some."

    Arriva's Gerry O'Leary insisted that the bus company had the best of intentions for the town and residents but that the changes were forced by falling passenger numbers and profits. When asked for details of this however he was reluctant to produce any figures, claiming commercial sensitivity.

    After the councillors pointed out that commercial sensitivity seemed ill-fitting for a route earmarked for closure, Mr O'Leary said he would consult with his line manager and later produced some figures. This appears to have raised even more issues, however, says Cllr Myers:

    "We're grateful that Arriva sent us some information but in the meeting they claimed profits and passenger numbers had been falling on the route for 5 years or so and yet they sent over no information on profits at all and only two years worth of figures on passenger numbers, for 2017 and 2018.

    Those figures don't even cover the whole period either but only from January to May each year. That's their worst part of the year - so it rather looks like an attempt to present a certain picture to justify the decision, rather than the full facts.

    As we said to them at the meeting, if the figures for the route don't add up then most residents will likely understand the need for changes but the company must make the case and be much more transparent about the numbers involved, it can't just expect blind trust from residents."

    Cllr Doyle commented:

    "What was also rather concerning and somewhat confusing was that the Southport management team present informed us that a decision had already been taken on this - despite the fact that there's supposed to be an ongoing consultation.

    We clarified this with them repeatedly and they made it abundantly clear that the decision was taken a month ago - then just after the meeting had ended we had a hasty call to say that, in fact, discussions were still ongoing at a higher level.

    Given they had the Southport general manager, the local operations manager and an Arriva PR person there at our meeting, something doesn't quite add up about the sudden about-face. They were quite certain in the discussion that the decision was made a month previously, which seems to bring into question the validity of any apparently ongoing consultation."

    Cllr Waterfield says another meeting has been agreed with the company which will hopefully answer the outstanding issues:

    "The company has offered to meet again and we are keen to do so, as we've been unimpressed so far by the explanations provided."

    Kew councillor Sean Halsall says that he and fellow Labour ward councillor Janis Blackburne are also in discussions with Cumfy Bus to see what role it can play in alleviating the impact of the Arriva changes. He says bus companies have clear responsibilities to local residents:

    "The proposed withdrawal of services is very troubling, local residents rely on these services to get to work and socialise. Companies like Arriva, Stagecoach and the other big operators need to realise the impact these decisions have on people’s lives.

    We need a vibrant transport network that connects people to where they need to travel, more so now with the need to reduce carbon emissions. The Labour case for nationalisation of these public services has never been stronger’

    Photo caption - Norwood Councillors (from left) Greg Myers, Mhairi Doyle and Carran Waterfield with local Arriva managers Gerry O'Leary and Paul Faichney (2nd & 3rd from left) and Kew Councillor Sean Halsall, on right

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    Your Comments:

  3. ausard2 says:09/07/2019 05:37 PM
    These bus companies just need to reduce certain services . We don't need a 10 minutes
    timetable , put it to 20 minutes people will accommodate accordingly.
    A company has to pay its way , we can't keep
    subsidising .

  4. Likes gazaprop liked this post
  5. gazaprop says:10/07/2019 07:30 AM
    I'm at a loss to understand what left them unimpressed. It's a commercial enterprise and Arriva were extending a courtesy to these individuals in meeting them.
    To then publicly pillory the company's representatives, purely to garner some shabby political credit, is a cheap shot.
    All they've achieved is Arriva will simply decline any future requests for a meeting and refer Curly, Larry and Mo to their publicity department.

    The root cause of any cut to service is financial viability not any perceived need. The fault for that lies with the government not some middle manager in a sleepy Victorian seaside resort.

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