Campaigners fighting plans to axe buses

The Arriva 1a bus which runs from Blyth to Ashington, Newbiggin and Amble.
The Arriva 1a bus which runs from Blyth to Ashington, Newbiggin and Amble.
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BUS services linking part of Newbiggin with Ashington, Blyth and Newcastle are to be axed.

Arriva is withdrawing all its services to the colliery end of the town, home to many elderly and disabled people, few of whom have access to cars.

Protesters have drawn up a petition and have already collected nearly 400 signatures.

The company plans to drop its 1A service from Blyth to Amble, via Newbiggin and Ashington, on Sunday, September 16.

It will also stop taking Newcastle express buses up Woodhorn Road and change the times of its 35 service to Pegswood and Morpeth.

Other changes to the X20 route will benefit some passengers, however, as it will continue hourly to Amble and call at Lynemouth, Widdrington Station and Ellington.

At Newbiggin Town Council’s meeting last week, chairman Rebecca McCready said: “It leaves an enormous problem for Newbiggin in that only up to Seacrest estate gets served.

“The colliery end gets no bus service whatsoever.”

It was agreed that a working group be formed, bringing together the same people who two years ago won their campaign to set up the Newbiggin Nipper town service, run by West Sleekburn charity WatBus.

Arriva North East managing director Nick Knox said afterwards: “Unfortunately, there will be a few areas that will see a reduced service. However, this is due to very few people travelling.

“We must make sure that the local communities we serve have a strong, sustainable network of bus services, and these changes are part of that process.”

Working group members will work with county council transport officers to decide how best to deal with the forthcoming changes.

It may seek to launch a second Nipper service in an effort to reduce isolation in the community.

Coun McCready said the council would have to investigate the cost.

“We know there’s demand for it,” she said.

In the meantime, campaigners will be calling on Arriva bosses to change their minds.

Travellers claim the services are busier than the bus company thinks.

One member of the public told the meeting, held at the town’s sports centre, that there is often standing room only on the buses, and that if they are taken away, many people would be tied to their houses.

Another said: “It’s just not on. We have got to be a third of Newbiggin’s population at the colliery end.”

The issue will be discussed further at the town council’s next meeting, on Wednesday, September 12, at St Bartholomew’s Church Centre.