Council’s U-turn on Follifoot bus service

NADV 1302056AM Follifoot bus. The Harrogate bus on route through Follifoot. (1302056AM)

NADV 1302056AM Follifoot bus. The Harrogate bus on route through Follifoot. (1302056AM)

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Follifoot’s only bus service has been saved after a dramatic u-turn by North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC).

At a packed-out meeting at Follifoot Village Hall last Thursday (February 14) Chris Roberts from NYCC transport services said the council “simply cannot afford” to subsidise the route.

However, just a few days later it was announced that the council will subsidise Transdev’s 770 service, which will now stop at Follifoot and Rudding Park hourly rather than every half an hour.

Brian Fisher, chairman of Follifoot Parish Council said: “I feel very happy and relieved. Any service is better than no service at all.”

Over 100 angry residents attended last week’s meeting to discuss the diversion.

Mr Fisher said: “I have never seen so many people here in all my years as chair.

“The whole village came together as one and everybody backed the service. It’s the power of the residents.”

At the meeting NYCC transport services representative Chris Roberts said: “We put the route out to tender and received prices between £30,000 and £75,000 per annum.”

The Harrogate Advertiser has been told by Richard Owens, assistant director of integrated transport at NYCC, that the amount agreed is “at the lower end” of that scale.

He added: “Follifoot and Rudding Park is a sizable community and part of our role is to provide a service.

“We didn’t feel we could leave them isolated.”

County Coun Chris Metcalfe, executive member responsible for public transport said he was disappointed at Transdev’s decisions to abandon the 2,000 passengers who use the service.

He said: “The council has a role to ensure that communities in North Yorkshire have access to essential services.

“However, the council is dealing with budget reductions and the only way we can afford to retain this service will be by reducing other parts of our supported network of bus services.”

Nigel Eggleton, marketing director at Transdev, said: “We are happy the discussions with the council have led to this.

“With an hourly service we can continue to serve the village whilst also meeting our strict punctuality targets.”