Mayor says town ‘will be left behind’ if money is not found for buses

Doug McIlwain, mayor of Ramsey, Adela Costello, county councillor for Ramsey; Lisa Duffy and John Pa

Doug McIlwain, mayor of Ramsey, Adela Costello, county councillor for Ramsey; Lisa Duffy and John Palmer, district councillors for Ramsey; and trustees from community charity Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

The mayor of Ramsey says the town could be “crippled” if the current temporary bus service linking it with Huntingdon is cut.

Currently, Ramsey has two bus services, one that takes passengers to Huntingdon and one that travels to Peterborough.

However, the existing number 30 service from Ramsey to Huntingdon is in danger of being cut when temporary funding for the route runs out.

Community groups in Ramsey have clubbed together to start a petition in an effort to secure more funding for the bus and keep what they call a ‘vital service’ running.

The service first faced the axe last year after the operator announced it was pulling out of its contact.

However, Cambridgeshire County Council stepped in to provide a temporary reprieve service to Ramsey after Whippet Coaches revealed it was to cut the route due to rising costs and stagnant subsidies.

The county council agreed last year to subsidise the route until March 2019 but, after that, the route is still at risk of being cut.

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The mayor of Ramsey, Councillor Doug McIlwain said: “This is a huge problem. Ramsey for many years has been abandoned by all tiers of government.

“I think that the idea of this service being cut is ludicrous, and if it does it will cripple the town. Ramsey is already being left behind, and we desperately need this service to Huntingdon.

“A lot of people go to Huntingdon for employment, to sign on to job seekers allowance, or to use the hospital.

“I challenge the transport department to prove me wrong, but I just don’t think that they care about Ramsey. At the end of the day, ignore Ramsey at your peril. We are a market town and I demand that we are treated like one.”

Ramsey Million, Ramsey Neighbourhood Trust and the town council are just some of the groups within the community fighting for the bus service to be saved.

Val Fendley, programme manager for Ramsey Million, said: “We shouldn’t be losing our bus service, the main place of employment is Huntingdon and where people get jobs when they live in Ramsey is limited by the transport links. By getting rid of this service it will be affecting the most vulnerable people in Ramsey and it’s very worrying.”

The petition has already been signed by 1,100 people and the groups have commissioned a review of the local public transport options in Ramsey, which will be shared with the Department for Transport and MP Jonathan Djanogly.

Jane Sills, the chairman of the Ramsey Million Partnership, said: “Ramsey Million Partnership was already concerned about the limited bus service and the threat to stop the 30 bus route makes matters far worse.”

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman said: “Earlier this summer, the council’s economy and environment committee met to consider extending the funding for previously agreed subsidised contracted bus services until March 2019, pending a more far-reaching review by James Palmer, the mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, due in November.

“The committee agreed to extend funding for several bus services, including service 30 from Ramsey to Huntingdon, along with the extension of funding for 13 other previously agreed subsidised contracted bus services. The council will continue to fund all the other previously agreed bus services until the end of March 2019. The council will then work with the mayor to discuss future funding arrangements.”