Southwick’s only bus route to be axed in cuts

NOT HAPPY Nina Ruse is worried about bus services being axed.    Picture: Ian Hargreaves (113455-3)
NOT HAPPY Nina Ruse is worried about bus services being axed. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (113455-3)
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PENSIONERS and students face being cut off when a village has its only bus service axed next month.

Hampshire County Council is withdrawing its subsidy for the First services 38, 138 and 139, which run from Cosham through to Southwick and Fareham.

SCRAPPED The 139 bus arrives in Southwick.

SCRAPPED The 139 bus arrives in Southwick.

It currently runs six round trips a day, Monday to Friday and four on Saturdays. But it is the only bus that runs through Southwick, where 60 per cent of the parish of 580 people is aged over 60.

Councillor James Watson, chairman of the parish council, said it is carrying out its own survey on the bus’s use.

He said: ‘We’re disappointed that the service is being removed.

‘But being pragmatic we understand the decision and the reasons behind it.’

Ian Cowell, 74, from Norton Close in Southwick said: ‘It’s been presented to us as a fait accompli.

‘A village that has been here for nearly a thousand years is going to be cut off.

‘A lot of the villagers are over 60 and don’t have cars, so they are going to be stranded.’

Councillor Mel Kendal, who is in charge of transport matters at the county council, said the cuts were the result of ‘difficult decisions’ as the result of government cutting the rural bus subsidy by a third.

Some services are to be replaced by a community transport or taxi share scheme.

He said: ‘This is the case for Southwick and Boarhunt which will be served by a taxi share offering a return journey either to Cosham or Wickham on different days. Taxi shares are similar to a timetabled bus service only a taxi or private hire vehicle picks passengers up instead.’

Fares are similar to those paid on a normal bus and anyone with a disabled or Hampshire older person’s bus pass can travel for free.

Cllr Watson added: ‘The village isn’t convinced that a taxi share solution will work here.

‘A few trips a week won’t meet the needs of the village. We’ve also got several young people in higher education who don’t have cars and it will be very difficult for them to get to college.’

To use the taxi share service, register on 01962 846786.