Calls to improve Northumberland’s rural bus services as increased government funding confirmed


Councilors representing some of Northumberland’s more rural wards have called for improvements to bus services in their areas.

It comes as Northumberland County Council prepares to submit its plans for the North East Improvement Partnership Plan project to access £163.5m funding from the Department for Transport ( DfT), which will be spent on improving bus services in the region.

The council’s acting deputy chief executive, Rick O’Farrell, noted that the funding was “significantly lower” than what the area’s local transport authority (LTA) had offered – but was higher than any other area in the pro rata.

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Due to time constraints, the proposed plan will be decided by council leader Glen Sanderson in consultation with Mr O’Farrell – and at Tuesday’s council cabinet meeting, the other members of the Sanderson council cabinet will urged to improve rural bus services.

Councilor Colin Horncastle, who represents the borough of South Tynedale, said: ‘I would love to see something come of this because as a member of a rural area it’s not just about improving service buses – in my division there are eight parishes and only one has a bus.

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“We will never achieve the green targets in rural Northumberland because there is no transport at all. Blanchland has had no buses for as long as people can remember.

“It should be possible to have smaller means of transport rather than the big buses. I’m sure the leader will highlight these points.

“It is very important that we take this opportunity to improve rural bus services.”

Councilor John Riddle, who represents the ward of Bellingham, added: “Our first service must be to local communities. Councilor Horncastle and I represent probably the more rural divisions of the county.

“You can’t run empty buses, but these on-demand services can run.”

Councilor Sanderson said: “I think this is fantastic news, this is a very big amount of government money. We want our fair share and I’m sure we’ll get it.”

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