18 November 2011: A bus user left stranded by cuts speaks out in the BBC East Midland documentary broadcast earlier this week.
Actress Anna Karen presented the report which can be viewed online until the 21st November 2011. Anna used to star in the comedy programme 'On the Buses' and it is great to see her sticking up for people stranded by cuts to rural bus services.
The programme looks at the human impact of bus cuts and features interviews by a number of people from communities in the East Midlands which have suffered in this year’s round of bus cuts. Interestingly the programme also gave bus passengers an opportunity to confront both a representative from the local authority and to take their protest to the Minister for buses, Norman Baker. Sadly they both seemed more interested in passing the buck than shouldering their share of responsibility.
As the people featured on the programme illustrated very well, the stakes are too high to let politicians and Councillors off the hook. Joyce Brian from Belton gave a moving interview about the struggle she now faces getting to and from her daughter’s home, where she looks after grandchildren so their mother can go to work. Lauren Foster from Woodhouse-Eves explains that she has been forced to move house because cuts to Evening and Sunday buses meant she could no longer get to her job. The people of Heather have been completely cut off from the public transport network since March. The vital role of buses was summed up very eloquently by disappointed resident Olive Marston MBE, who said “I have lived in Heather for 60 years. I know that times have changed but we always had buses. Buses to take my children to school, me to work and bring me home, and for the shoppers”.
However there is reason to have hope. The programme explains that the bus users of Belton clubbed together to campaign to keep their lifeline bus service on the road, and won! It just goes to show that with hard work and perseverance we can make a difference.