Residents in Long Lawford have vowed to continue their campaign for a full bus service to be restored to the heart of the village even though Warwickshire County Council agreed to re-route its 209 service to include Long Lawford once a day on a Wednesday and Friday in the New Year
The campaign has the full suport of Rugby Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC). TUSC spokesperson Pete McLaren, who lives in the village, gave us a detailed explanation. “Stagecoach took away its 3A service last January without consultation, leaving elderly, infirm and vulnerable residents who live in the heart of Long Lawford without an accessible bus service.
“Stagecoach rejected a petition signed by 516 residents, calling on them to at least partially restore the service, back in April. We sent the petition on to Warwickshire County Council which has a legal obligation to consider funding routes cut by private bus operators.
“The petition has not been considered by any Council Committee as should have been the case, and we heard nothing for four months. When we finally got a reply, from Cllr Jeff Clarke, Portfiolo Holder for Transport, it was simply to say Warwickshire County Council could not do anything to help. Campaigners refused to accept this, and we have written back asking why Council procedures for dealing with petitions have not been followed, and how the decision for WCC not to fund the Long Lawford service was made. We await a response.
“At the same time, we have been in discussion with Council Officers, and this approach has brought a minor victory. In addition to the Dial-Ride service on a Tuesday, which has to be booked 48 hours in advance, Warwickshire County Council has agreed to fund a bus service through the heart of the village on a Wednesday and Friday. Although this will only be once a day each way, it will enable residents to travel into Rugby and, if they wish, onto Elliott’s Fields Retail Park on Leicester Rd, allowing about three hours before the return service
“This service will be run by A & M Group. It will start on Wednesday January 8th. The bus will be accessible for wheel chairs and will accept concessionary bus passes. What is most important is that it will arrive from Lawford Heath, stopping in Chapel St and Round Avenue – therefore once more providing a service through the heart of the village, and giving those who most need a bus service an opportunity to go into Rugby once again. The extension to include Elliott’s Fields Retail Park is an added bonus.
“Whilst being pleased with this development, we will continue to campaign for a daily service. We see no reason why the existing 86 bus from Coventry to Rugby, which includes parts of Long Lawford, can not include streets in the heart of the village at least three times a day each way, as happens with the Manor Estate in Wolston. We will be lobbying councillors to support proposals to do this in next year’s budget. Warwickshire County Council receives a grant of about £1.5million from the Department of Transport to run services not provided by private companies like Stagecoach. We are asking them to meet the cost of our proposals from that.
“Although we are pleased to have this new sevice two days a week, we will continue to put pressure on Warwickshire County Council to restore an adequate daily bus service to residents who live in the heart of Long Lawford,” Pete McLaren concluded.
Rugby TUSC can be contacted on 07881 520626, at www.rugbytusc.com; RugbyTUSC@gmail.com; or PO Box 4123 Rugby CV21 9BJ
Pete McLaren is also a member of the TUSC National Steering Committee, and is its Local Group Development Officer.