Lack of bus services in Havercroft and Netherton costing local economy, Wakefield Rural Conservative councillor claims

Poor quality bus services in Wakefield's rural parts are holding back the local economy, one councillor has claimed.

Saturday, 27th February 2021, 7:00 am

Conservative Ian Sanders said that residents were increasingly having to use cars because of a public transport system he claimed was "working backwards".

Bus passenger numbers have been hit massively by the Covid pandemic, with West Yorkshire taxpayers having to subsidise the private operators to keep some services going over the last year.

Reduced timetables have seen buses on other routes cut back, however.

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Wakefield Bus Station

The Labour-run district council's budget, which was passed this week, included more money for public transport, including an extra £500,000 to help children get to school over the next year.

Speaking at the meeting on Wednesday, Coun Sanders welcomed the investment, but added he hoped some of it would be invested into villages hit by lost services.

Coun Sanders, who represents the Wakefield Rural ward, said: "Havercroft is a stone's throw away from three local supermarkets - Co-op, Aldi and Asda.

"But the bus services have been completely lost, so that in Havercroft it's now easier to get on a bus and go to Barnsley (than the supermarkets).

"In Netherton, services have been further reduced from one per hour, to one every two hours.

"Children are now having to use family cars to get to school. Residents are relying more and more on their own transport.

"Bus operators are seeing their figures reduce and are then cutting the services even more.

"The system is working backwards and not doing much for the local economy."

Poor public transport in Wakefield's southern quarters has been a long-standing gripe for several communities.

A 2018 report suggested that a lack of connectivity was holding young people back in the jobs market, while the following year Castleford councillor Tony Wallis said people's need for cars was making climate change worse.

Operator Arriva defended its service at the time, insisting it had been pro-active in addressing a "challenging" time for the industry.

In a 2018 interview, the company's then area managing director, Jon Croxford, said that a small number of services had been cut in recent years in order to "make sure our resources are where they're needed most".

Local Democracy Reporting Service