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Hawkwell Bus Gloom – there could be hope !!

April 24, 2009 by  

The Local Transport Act 2008 became law in November 2008 and I have been keenly awaiting the Guidance on Quality Partnership Schemes (QPS) which came into force on 6 April 2009.

There are now  far more effective set of options and powers to improve bus services. The bus in public transport provision in Rochford District has for too long been allowed to slip into decline. Now there are powers available to local authorities to work with operators to get to grips with more of the problems behind this decline.

This could mean that for communities like Hawkwell which has seen all evening services cancelled in 2002 and day time services reduced to one per hour since February could see a new operator come in to provide much needed services.

 At present the position of Hawkwell can be expressed as follows:

– Ashingdon (Golden Cross) has c. 78 buses each way each week day

– Hockley has 45 (48 wef 7 June 2009)

– Hawkwell has just 13, and none after 6.30pm!
 
Hawkwell has the largest population.

I believe that the reason for the reduction in services is because there is no recognised status for the Hawkwell, 8 Route, in the Essex County Council transport policy and, as such, it remains an easy target for arbitrary cost cutting by the bus provider Arriva, who indeed advised in writing that the cuts were because the majority of passengers were bus pass holders.

I have today asked Rochford District Council to get this going for Hawkwell by team working with Essex County Council under the Local Transport Bill 2008 – Quality Partnership Schemes.  

Very soon there will be a new round of Kickstart bidding – inviting local authorities in partnership with bus operators to bid for a share of £25 million to ‘pump prime’ new or improved services. Schemes which will utilise the powers in the Local Transport Act, including the revised voluntary partnership agreements and the new statutory quality partnership scheme provisions, will be particularly encouraged to apply for the funding.

Let us hope that Terry Cutmore, Keith Hudson and June Lumley grasp the opportunity to work with Essex County Council and entrepreneurs  to resolve the problems in my Ward and Hawkwell generally which, despite having almost no bus services has the largest population of all villages in the district and demands for over 100 affordable houses to be built there.

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