Village bids to battle county council bus cuts

JPCT 01-06-11 COWFOLD Caroline Collins, she and her children and other campaigners are concerned about the bus services being cut. Henfield Road at the bus shelter outside surgery in Cowfold -photo by steve cobb
JPCT 01-06-11 COWFOLD Caroline Collins, she and her children and other campaigners are concerned about the bus services being cut. Henfield Road at the bus shelter outside surgery in Cowfold -photo by steve cobb

RESIDENTS of Cowfold are gearing themselves up to stop a vital bus service being axed.

West Sussex County Council is planning to slash the amount of money it spends funding bus travel in and around Horsham.

School routes and rural services are all being examined as the council prepares to cut its subsidised bus travel spend by £2m over three years.

For a full round-up and the latest on the cuts pick up this week’s County Times.

One such service in the firing line is the number 86 Metrobus service which makes various stops, including Cowfold and Warden Park School in Cuckfield.

A meeting will be held on Wednesday June 8 in Cowfold Village Hall at 7.30pm. The county council’s deputy leader responsible for highways and transport Lionel Barnard (Con, Henfield) and district councillor Andrew Dunlop (Con. Cowfold, Shermanbury and West Grinstead) have confirmed they will be attending.

The deputy head of Warden Park School and co-ordinator of pupil transport Rob Stoneley will also be there to hear what alternative plans the council intends to put in place to ensure his pupils can safely access the school. Campaigners have also invited South Downs MP Nick Herbert.

They say the cut will have a detrimental effect on many members of the community from all age groups and walks of life and they intend to demonstrate this at the meeting.

If they do not feel they have been able to achieve a positive result at the meeting they will carry out a demonstration at the 86 bus top at Warden Park School the next morning when it arrives with their children on board.

Caroline Collins, of Acorn Avenue, Cowfold has two children - a 13-year-old daughter already at Warden Park and an 11-year-old son due to start in September.

“Obviously my primary concern if I’m honest is how we get our children to school in Warden Park.”

The places at the school were obtained on the basis that transport was available to their school even though it was outside the catchment area.

“It will be disastrous and it will be highly stressful it we don’t have transport for the kids to school.”

Mrs Collins said she would have to rely on the goodwill of neighbours to get them to and from Warden Park.

“I’m not prepared to have the possibility of my kids being stranded six miles from home.

“We would have to consider moving them to one of the catchment schools.”

But intakes were already full with waiting lists, she added.

“My first thought was the way they (the county council) have done it has been incredibly inconsiderate and uncaring.”

She understood the council had to make cuts but added: “You can’t just say ‘sorry that’s not making money, you can’t have it any more’.”

No information had been forthcoming from the council about alternatives, she said, adding: “You need to have a plan from where we go from here. I think we all know they fully intend to cancel the service.”

The county council will be inviting concerned members of the public to speak out in defence of their bus routes. The impact assessment closes on Friday June 10 with the first phase of reductions taking effect from September 1 2011.

To have your say call 01243 642105, email buses@westsussex.gov.uk or write to: Buses, Have Your Say, FREEPOST RSBK-CHTU-KGGG, West Sussex County Council, Chichester, PO19 1RQ.

For readers’ letters on the proposed bus cuts see page ten.