Recently we heard the great news that Lancashire County Council had u-turned on a decision to cut £3.8m from its bus funding over two years. This could have meant many vital bus routes being cut completely, which would have caused social isolation and misery for thousands of people who depend on buses.
Thankfully a number of people decided to take a stand and fight to save their local buses, and they won! Ursula Gallie is one such local campaigner and she has very kindly offered to tell her awesome campaigning story below. We hope Ursula's story helps to inspire and enthuse other people who are facing cuts to their bus services.
'I live in a village called Caton just outside Lancaster in the Lune Valley. We have a good bus service which serves villages all along the roads from Lancaster to Kirkby Lonsdale.
I heard about the threats to our buses by chance when a friend on Facebook directed me to a new Facebook group talking about it. I, to my despair, discovered that Lancashire County Council were proposing to stop evening and Sunday services on many routes across the county including my own bus route. They were undertaking a consultation but were making no effort to make the public aware of the proposal or the consultation. I use these bus services and was furious at the prospect of losing them.
I wanted to take some action so I set up a petition on Change.org. That took about five minutes. I sent it to all my Facebook friends and email contacts and I started posting about it on Facebook and tweeting. I set up a Facebook page and invited all my friends. Somehow BBC Radio Lancashire found out what I was doing and I did a live interview. Later that day, I thought it would be great to get more news coverage to draw attention to the threats to our buses so I called BBC Northwest Tonight and later that day, the petition was featured on regional television. I contacted two local papers and an online local news site and they all covered the story.
Through Facebook, I found two local people who were interested in campaigning against the bus cuts. We met up and came up with a plan. This was to encourage people to respond to the consultation, to write to County Councillors and for us to print posters to put up at bus stops and posters to put through people’s doors to display in the window saying “Save our buses” and giving some information about the campaign. We printed them at our own expense and distributed them in our villages.
I regularly used Change.org to email everyone who had signed the petition and the Facebook page and Twitter, for example to encourage people to write to County Councillors and to come to a public meeting. I constantly tell people about the campaign everywhere I go: on the street, on the bus and in local shops.
I arranged with my County Councillor to present her with the petition at a public meeting she had arranged in my village. After three weeks the petition had 1300 signatures and many comments. At a packed meeting of over one hundred people, I presented the petition to her and also to the County Council Cabinet Member for Transport. I had contacted the press and the next day I did two radio interviews and gave comments to two local papers.
Two days later I received an email from a journalist saying that the County Council were about to abandon plans to make blanket cuts to bus services and would review services on a case by case basis! This was a fantastic victory but of course the battle is not over and I intend to carry on fighting to ensure the best possible future for my local buses and others across the county. While waiting to discover what will happen next, I and others continue to use the Facebook page and the email list of petition signatures to urge people to use the bus and to continue pressurising County Councillors and the bus company.'
If you are facing cuts to your bus service and would like some advice please contact us here.
You can follow Ursula on twitter here