ShropshireLink bus closure will go ahead as planned

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Council chiefs have refused plans to delay the closure of a countywide rural bus service.

Shropshire councillor Roger Evans, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, had attempted to formally 'call in' a decision made at cabinet on July 24 to axe the ShropshireLink.

If accepted, it would have temporarily stopped the service cuts from being made. The bus service, which serves hundreds of passengers in Shropshire, will cease to operate from December and up to 20 bus drivers and office staff have been told their contracts will be terminated.

Opponents of the move claim too few details had been provided on what was being considered to replace it and branded the situation "very confusing to all concerned" including users, councillors and other service providers.

But Councillor Steve Davenport, chairman of the relevant scrutiny committee, has turned the request down but confirmed "alternative solutions" are being looked into.

He said: "I have considered your request to call in the above cabinet decision. Having given this very careful consideration and having consulted with the monitoring officer I am of the view that this is not an effective call in.

"My reasons are that you have clearly stated your group call in is not against the proposal to shut down the Shropshire Link. What you do seem concerned about is the desire to understand and be involved in the alternative solutions.

"With that in mind what I would like to propose that members of my scrutiny committee actively be involved in shaping the redesign of these solutions in the communities around Shropshire." He added: "As you are aware this is already happening in the south west where Cllr Charlotte Barnes is already involved."

Councillor Evans said he "regretted" he provision of rural transport was "no longer a priority" for the council.

He added: "Other providers, many using volunteers only have a limited capacity and can only offer some of the services. My concern is both about the drivers who have done everything asked of them for the last five years and the many parts of rural Shropshire who will have no public transport of any description in the future."

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