OVER the last few weeks, I have been contacted by several constituents regarding changes to the Stagecoach service in the Forest of Dean. These changes have caused concern and as a result I have been in regular contact with Gloucestershire County Council.

Following bus route cuts by Stagecoach, the Conservative-led County Council acted quickly to try and ensure that no one would be left isolated. The success of their efforts has protected around 350,000 of the journeys that the Stagecoach cuts would have lost had the County Council not acted so decisively.

However, not all the routes could be replaced, and in those cases alternative ways of getting around are being promoted. This includes making use of more innovative modes of transport such as dial-a-ride, community transport and ‘The Robin’ which has recently been launched here in the Forest of Dean and in the Cotswolds. In addition, personal transport planners will be on hand to talk to anyone who needs extra help – they can be contacted on 0871 200 22 33.

Cllr. Philip Robinson, County Councillor for Mitcheldean and Cabinet member for Transport said “I promised communities across Gloucestershire that we would work tirelessly to avoid people being left isolated when these routes were cut by Stagecoach. In an extremely challenging context, the team have been able to save about 70 per cent of these journeys. Where no bus provider could be found, we are promoting alternative solutions such as dial-a-ride, community transport and the new ‘Robin’ service.

“Stagecoach have left many communities across the county high and dry. This is unacceptable to the county council and it’s one of the reasons why I reported Stagecoach to the Traffic Commissioner. We are not prepared to let Stagecoach get away with treating communities this way. The people of Gloucestershire deserve better, and I will remain steadfast in my commitment to delivering public transport that works.”

I am in close contact with Cllr Robinson and continue to monitor this situation closely.

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