CONSERVATIVE MP Ian Liddell-Grainger is urging constituents to have their say as the Government starts work on a new set of policies for rural transport.
He says families in rural areas should take advantage of the recently-opened public consultation process to ensure Ministers get the full picture on the problems facing isolated households – and the size of investment that will be required to cure them,
The Transport Department is inviting the public’s views on its future rural transport strategy and wants to hear from as many people as possible.
Mr Liddell-Grainger said his Bridgwater and West Somerset constituency contained plenty of examples of members of rural communities facing increasing difficulties as a result of progressive cuts in country bus services.
“You may only be living three miles from a large town but if you don’t own a car and there is no bus service you may as well be 30 or 300 miles away,” he said.
“Unfortunately bus operators have slashed their timetables ruthlessly since the days when a village with no bus connection was the exception rather than norm. And with a real squeeze on the money local authorities have available to subsidise routes many current services – even those looked on as essential – are constantly under threat.”
Mr Liddell-Grainger said there was growing evidence that in the wake of coronavirus more families were relocating to live and work in the countryside, so enlarging the potential customer base for public transport.
“At a time when we are all being urged to reduce car use in order to help limit emissions we should be seriously looking at rebuilding rural transport networks using low-emission vehicles,” he said.
“Country buses are a wonderful institution. For non-car owners they provide an essential link to shops, hospitals and surgeries and for car owners they offer a stress-free and cheaper way of travelling to and from work as well as reducing congestion on the roads, as long as they are carefully-tailored to local needs.
“These are all matters the Government needs to hear about in the early stages of planning a new national strategy and I hope as many people as possible will take up this opportunity to feed their views into the debate.”
You can have your say at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/future-of-transport-rural-strategy-call-for-evidence
The consultation closes at 11.45pm on February 16.