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COUNCILLORS ARRIVE BY BUS – TO SAVE OUR BUSES!    

Thames Ditton and Weston Green residents, led by their Residents’ Association borough councillors, Tricia Bland and Tannia Shipley and county councillor, Peter Hickman, handed a petition against the proposed cuts of the 514, 515 and 458 bus services by the current operator, Abellio Surrey to Surrey County Council this morning. Over 2,000 Thames Ditton and Weston Green residents signed the petition at the railway station and in local shops, pubs, cafes, churches and doctors’ surgeries protesting at the proposed cuts which could mean that Thames Ditton and Weston Green have no bus service after 1st January, 2017.
 
‘Surrey County Council have issued a statement saying they are looking at engaging alternative bus companies to provide replacement services, but there is no guarantee that equivalent services can be found,’ says Cllr Tricia Bland.
 
To highlight their concerns, the Thames Ditton & Weston Green Residents’ Association hired its own bus to deliver the petition to County Hall, to make its own statement about the importance of continuing these services with the necessary subsidy.

‘The impact of withdrawing these services would be devastating to the whole community’, says Cllr Tricia Bland.  ‘Many of our elderly residents and those with disabilities have no alternative forms of transport and rely on our local buses to maintain their independence. There are also those who rely on the buses to take them to work, schools and colleges, doctor’s surgeries and hospitals.”
 Residents’ Association Chairman Rhodri Richards added: ‘Any plan to cut the bus services would contradict SCC’s pledge to foster a more environmentally friendly County. More and more residential and business planning applications without off-street parking are being given the green light with the reasoning that we should be encouraging people to forego their cars and use public transport. This means SCC should be investing in and improving bus services, not cutting them.’
 
The Thames Ditton & Weston Green Residents’ Association is asking SCC for reassurances that the three bus services under threat will be continued, without a reduction in frequency or stops, with a new operator. ‘A reliable and frequent bus and train service is essential for the society we live in, now and in the future. We need to be forward thinking and should be working to improve public transport links, not reducing or withdrawing them,’ say Cllr Bland.

‘A huge thank you to Thames Ditton and Weston Green residents of all ages who gave up their time on a cold winter’s morning to travel with RA councillors and officers on a Routemaster bus to County Hall to hand in our petition against the proposed cuts of the 514, 515 and 458 bus services. We will continue our campaign to fight for these services to continue under another operator with the necessary subsidy from Surrey County Council and without a reduction in frequency or stops.’
 
For further information contact Tricia W. Bland:  tdwgra@the-blands.co.uk

If you would like to hear BBC Radio Surrey's interview with Cllr Tricia Bland and resident, John Cooney, go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04dpxk4 for the iPlayer link, start playing 'Breakfast on BBC Surrey, 8 November' and scroll to 1hr 39mins into the programme.