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Stone buses will be reviewed by Staffordshire County Council

By Stone Edition  |  Posted: January 16, 2014

By Kerry Ashdown

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STONE buses subsidised by Staffordshire County Council are up for review.

The council subsidises services that would not otherwise be provided by commercial operators.

These services enable it to fulfil legal functions, such as providing transport to and from school, as well as offering transport for residents to travel to work, shops, medical services and leisure facilities.

A public consultation on Stone services subsidised by the council closed on Friday. Following the review, changes will take place in April.

Staffordshire County Council's cabinet support member for transport Simon Tagg said: "A number of bus service reviews are planned across the county in 2014 to ensure we are getting the best value for money with a network that reflects travel patterns. The network will include sustainable, supported and commercial services.

"The review in Stone is taking place now because of previous unplanned cancellation of some contracts by the operators. As a result, short-term arrangements were made for these services to last until April."

But the timing of the Stone consultation has come under fire from Stone councillors.

Speaking at a town council meeting on January 2 Councillor Mike Williamson said: "One of the things concerning me is the bus services in Stone - the timing of the consultation is so ridiculous. Most people have missed it."

Councillor Philip Jones, who represents the Stone Urban ward on the county council, said: "Bus services, particularly in the Walton area, are extremely important and need to be preserved."

Councillor Jill Hood said concerns had been raised in the Aston Lodge area. "I have had a childminder extremely worried after she had heard her bus service was going to be withdrawn. She is not a driver so it is her lifeline," she said.

Stone services subsidised by Staffordshire County Council are: the Wardle/Bennetts 1 (Stonefield Circular), 2 (Aston Lodge Circular) and 3 (Oulton Cross Circular) services; Arriva Midlands/Bennetts' 164 (Hanley to Market Drayton); Wardle's 190 (Cranberry to Hanley); Bennetts Travel's 250 (Walton to Longton), 436 (Stafford to Market Drayton) and 490 (Stone to Stafford); Arriva Midlands' 432 and 433 (Stafford to Knightley) and Bakers Coaches' X5 (Hanley to Newport).

In September 2013 services connecting Barlaston with Longton and Stone were reduced by Bakers, leaving residents struggling to get to work.

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