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Calls to improve Northumberland's rural bus services as Government funding boost confirmed

By James Robinson

Councillors representing some of Northumberland's most rural wards have called for improvements to bus services in their areas.

It comes as Northumberland County Council prepares to submit its plans for the North East's draft Enhancement Partnership Plan to access £163.5m in funding from the Department for Transport (DfT), which will be spent on improving bus services across the region.

The council's interim deputy chief executive, Rick O'Farrell, noted that the funding was "significantly less" than the region's local transport authority (LTA) had put forward - but was more than any other region on a pro-rata basis.

Read more: Osprey eggs laid at Kielder for thirteenth consecutive year

Due to time pressures, the plan put forward will be decided by council leader Glen Sanderson in consultation with Mr O'Farrell - and at Tuesday's meeting of the council's cabinet, Coun Sanderson's fellow cabinet members urged him to improve rural bus services.

Coun Colin Horncastle, who represents the South Tynedale ward, said: "I would like to see this achieve something, because as a member for a rural area it is not just a matter of improving the bus service - in my division there are eight parishes and only one has a bus.

How do you think bus services in Northumberland could be improved? Let us know in the comments

"We're never going to reach green targets in rural parts of Northumberland because there is no transport at all. Blanchland hasn't had a bus for as long as people can remember.

"It should be possible to have smaller forms of transport rather than the big buses. I'm sure the leader will put these points forward.

"It is very important we take this chance to improve rural bus services."

Coun John Riddle, who represents the Bellingham ward, added: "Our first service has to be to local communities. Coun Horncastle and I represent probably the most rural divisions in the county.

"You can't run empty buses, but these on-demand services may work."

Coun Sanderson said: "I think this is fantastic news, it is a very large amount of Government money. We want our fair share and I'm sure we will get it."

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Dive Deeper:
Allendale and Ovingham in Northumberland miss out on funding worth tens of thousands due to planning delays
The council have insisted its new Section 106 planning policy is an improvement on the ones it replaced
Northumberland County Council leader reveals plans to add fluoride to water system in bid to combat oral health issues
The council had planned to do so prior to the Covid-19 pandemic but plans were met with resistance from some…
Amble parents to be consulted on potential reorganisation of the area's schools
The consultation comes ahead of a multi-million pound investment in the partnership's schools
Northumbria Police warn cars could be 'seized' ahead of planned car rally at Prudhoe retail park
A previous event on May 1 saw police deploy a plane to assist with their response
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Campaigners demand safe crossing before someone is killed on Morpeth Bypass
Parents in the area are concerned about the lack of safe crossing on the roundabout near Northgate Hospital
Proposed pedestrian crossing to Druridge Bay Country Park deemed unsafe and rejected
Council officers felt the plan was not suitable for the road, meaning alternative solutions had to be sought
Get all your news in one place