Fight to save Ludlow bus service
Bus users have started a petition in a last-ditch attempt to save a rural service that acts as a lifeline between villages and towns.
The 492 between Hereford and Ludlow is due to be drastically cut back at the end of the month.
The bus will stop at Orleton on the south Shropshire border, just five miles short of Ludlow - and turn back to Hereford, snubbing the people of Shropshire apart from two school run buses on weekdays.
But objectors say the service acts as a main link for many who live in south Shropshire villages such as Overton, Batchcott and Richards Castle.
Now bus users have got together and raised over 140 signatures in a petition against the impending cut by Herefordshire Council in a last bid to get the authority to change its mind - though a spokesman for the council said while any letters would always be considered, the decision had already been made after a long consultation process.
Vivienne Parry, Shropshire councillor for Ludlow South has been involved with the petition.
She said: "In Richards Castle there are a lot of people in their eighties and nineties who have given up their cars. They use it to do their shopping, to go to the doctors.
"I've got people just down the road from me (in Ludlow) who get on that bus two or three times a week. People who go to Hereford hospital, elderly people short of money. It's Shropshire people who are affected," she said.
"This is a last ditch attempt, because it's going to stop at the end of the month.
"Hopefully somebody will say 'Right, we'll put on an extra one or two a day'."
The only 492 buses to go beyond Orleton from September will be one first thing in the morning and one in the afternoon, to transport school children - but not at weekends or during school holidays.
Karen Price, manager at Ludlow Touring Caravan Park, on Overton Road said they would be left without a regular bus for campers and walkers.
"It's hideous. I can't believe we're going to be left without a public service - it's not just us, it's a whole community here. It's ok if you're young and fit and able, but if you've got any disability you can't walk 30 minutes into town.
"We have people ringing in asking about the buses - people that cannot get into Ludlow will not come here. It's going to impact on us and the local economy."
Councillor Parry said she still hoped Shropshire Council and Herefordshire Council could talk to each other about finding a solution.
But Shropshire Council bosses have said the 492 route falls outside of the "agreed minimum network" in the Shropshire Bus Strategy, and due to pressures on Shropshire's own bus budgets, the authority could not consider spending more to meet Herefordshire's shortfall.
Michelle Morgan, spokeswoman for Herefordshire Council, said the move was part of a review of transport services to save the authority £1 million in the next two years, and some cuts had to be made.
"We have had to consider withdrawing subsidy for some services. Journeys to and from Ludlow for education and workers at peak times will remain."
The authority has to meet savings of £33m by 2017.
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