Bus service is retained

CAMPAIGNERS have persuaded the county council to resurrect a popular bus service almost a year after the authority cancelled its funding.

Villagers in Newbiggin refused to accept the loss of the town service, originally run by Phoenix, and pressed the county to help subsidise a replacement for a trial six months.

The WATbus service, dubbed the Newbiggin Nipper, has been a big success and now the county has agreed to provide more than £7,000 in subsidy it for the coming year.

Local women who led the campaign and work as volunteer administrators of the passenger membership scheme are jubilant.

Newbiggin Town Council is also delighted as it pledged money to keep the service alive.

Campaigner Coun Mavis Cholerton announced the good news at the latest meeting in the village Sailing Club.

“It’s absolutely wonderful,” she said.

She thanked county transport manager Andrew Harding and the county council for saving the service, so valued by many elderly and disabled people who feared they would be isolated at home without it.

Town councillors voted to contribute £2,431 – one quarter of the cost – with the rest being met by the county.

From October to the end of February the Nipper carried 1,249 passengers, an average of 34 a day.

Coun Alan Thompson, county executive member for the environment as well as a Newbiggin councillor, congratulated the volunteers.

“I hope this can be rolled out elsewhere as it’s a great example of what can be achieved.”