A VITAL link to health services and shops could be cut off for villagers as part of plans to axe a bus route.
Hundreds of residents in Pegswood have added their names to a petition calling for the under-threat 518 Arriva service to be granted a stay of execution.
The bus company has announced that it will take off the Widdrington Estate to Newcastle route from September 16, with passengers invited to use the X18 service instead.
But the alternative bus will not go into the Pegswood Estate or call at the local health centre and villagers say many elderly residents will lose a lifeline.
Campaigner Hazel Simms said: “A lot of older residents in the village use it like a shuttle service to get to the health centre and a lot of people get on the bus to go to Morpeth to get a loaf of bread or milk and then get the next bus back. It is a bit of a lifeline for them.
“People will not be able to get to the main street stop if they have bags of shopping, and they can’t walk from the main street in the village right down to the health centre in West View.
“The elderly people will not be able to get to the health centre for doctors’ appointments without this service.”
The 518 comes from Alnwick, via Widdrington, Ulgham and Longhirst to Pegswood, before travelling on to Morpeth and Newcastle.
Mrs Simm said opposition to the cuts is strong throughout the villages and in Pegswood alone around 500 people have signed the petition.
“At peak times when the Widdrington bus comes through now you can’t get a seat so it is going to be even worse when this service is taken off, but a lot of people can’t walk up to the stop anyway and it doesn’t come through the estate so that is the main problem,” she said.
“Even if it came through every two hours, it would be better than nothing. It doesn’t have to be every hour, and I can understand them taking it off at night because there is nobody on it then. Other than that, this is a very popular bus.”
Arriva Managing Director Nick Knox said: “It is important that we review our networks to ensure that we are consistently serving the majority of the people with the best possible routes and frequencies.
“Unfortunately, due to very few people using their local bus service, the Pegswood Estate will no longer be served.
“However, the new X18 service will run hourly between Newcastle and Alnwick and will still serve the stop on the main road in Pegswood.”
However, Northumberland County Council is looking into the possibility of setting up a community transport scheme to replace the link.
A council spokesman said: “We are aware of the petition about the withdrawal of the half-hourly route for the 518.
“While the council doesn’t have the funds to put this bus service back on, we are hoping to work with the parishes to look for funding for a community transport service instead.
“We have written to all the parishes to invite them to discuss how we can move things forward.”
To see a video about the petition, click on the video player above...