New councillors fight for better bus-service

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HUCKNALL’S newly-elected Labour councillors have wasted no time in picking their first major battle — the fight for top-quality bus-services in the town.

At the Ashfield District Council elections earlier this month, Labour enjoyed a clean sweep of the nine seats in Hucknall.

Now those councillors have joined forces to call for improvements in public transport, most notably with the Trent Barton Connect bus route, which links outlying estates with the town centre.

Trent has drastically altered the service, dropping one route completely. The decision has outraged passengers, who have voiced their disquiet through two public meetings and a page set up on the Facebook social-networking website. They say the new timetable does not work and buses do not run on time.

Hucknall Labour councillors Jim Grundy, Chris Baron, Trevor Locke, Lachlan, Keir and Ian Morrison, Dave Shaw, Ken Knight and John Wilmott have now spoken out.

In an open letter to the town’s Conservative members of Notts County Council, Couns Mick Murphy and Kevin Rostance, they are call for action.

They say: “During the election campaign, people from all parts of Hucknall expressed their concerns about the inadequacy of local bus services.

“The changes to the Hucknall Connect route in particular have left many feeling isolated and frustrated that there appears little prospect that Trent Barton will reinstate the previous timetable.”

The Ashfield councillors call on their County Hall counterparts to reveal details of transport studies and whether the county council would consider subsidising bus-services in Hucknall.

The letter adds: “Whatever you have done or plan to do, we’re sure you recognise the bottom line is quite straightforward — local people believe their bus service, a service they relied upon to do their shopping and maintain contact with family and friends, has been lost to them.”

In a response, Coun Murphy, backed by Coun Rostance, says he has been talking to Trent Barton about the Connect service since before the election.

Last week, he spent more than two hours on buses around the town speaking with passengers.

He has also since met with Trent Barton who told him that the Connect was changed because it was under-used and was not profitable.

There was a risk the service could have been axed completely and the firm says there is no way the previous Connect format will be reinstated.

Coun Murphy said: “I have also spoken to Trent about the complaints and it says there have been some teething troubles.

“I have also asked about the lack of bus services to the extreme west of Hucknall where the town’s biggest employer, Rolls-Royce, has more than 800 staff. It’s disgraceful that there is only an hourly service.

“This is not acceptable. I have been on the case for some time and will continue the fight.”