Standing room only at public meeting on bus cut concerns

Changes to local bus services came into force on Monday this week
Changes to local bus services came into force on Monday this week

Residents packed out a public meeting this week to voice their concerns over bus changes they say will leave communities “isolated”.

Community councils in the Braes called the meeting in Shieldhill after Falkirk Council announced a number of the services it subsidised financially would be either cut completely, revised, reduced, replaced or run on a “use it or lose it” basis by commercial bus operators.

The focal point of the meeting was the number 13 service – the longest route in the Falkirk district – which was subsidised by the council until Monday when the local authority pulled the funding for it. The council has been forced to subsidise more and more local services in recent years due to commercial operators like First pulling routes that are not profitable,

Danny Callaghan of Reddingmuirhead and Wallacestone Community Council said: “One of the main concerns is that people will not be able to get to Meadowbank Health Centre in Polmont.

“It now takes someone from Shieldhill three-and-a-half hours to get there on a bus. There was absolutely no consultation about the changes. This is a slap in the face for people.”

A Falkirk Council spokesperson said: “We are currently reviewing the entire subsidised network across the Falkirk Council area.

“The process is ongoing. We held a public meeting last night (Tuesday 23 August) to listen to residents concerns and will consider all feedback before making any adjustments to services.”

Alternatives to be considered

Falkirk Council officers who attended this week’s public meeting in Shieldhill Welfare Hall said they would consider alternatives put forward by attendees.

The council has put in place a an alternative service for the 13 route (the 25, which has been sightly re-routed to cover parts of the 13 route), but it doesn’t cover all of the route.

Reddingmuirhead and Wallacestone community councillor Danny Callaghan said: “This is not an acceptable alternative for many people in our area as it still leaves parts of Reddingmuirhead out.

“The top end of Reddingmuirhead will miss out. We did put forward some alternatives that could work so hopefully they will be genuinely considered.”