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Pensioners’ protest blocks bus station

MORE than 100 pensioners blockaded Holmfirth Bus Station at the weekend in protest over plans to cut a vital bus service.

MORE than 100 pensioners blockaded Holmfirth Bus Station at the weekend in protest over plans to cut a vital bus service.

The elderly protesters proved a force to be reckoned with as they stood in front of buses operated by First Bus, blocking drivers from leaving by any means necessary – including using their walking sticks!

They were joined in their spirited protest by friends, family and local politicians.

They held their placards high to campaign against plans by transport chiefs to change the 313 bus route so that it cuts out vital stops.

Their protest, which also captured the attention of local TV and radio stations, lasted for more than an hour – and they have promised that there will be more where that came from!

John Brook, a resident who helped organise the protest, said: “It was a peaceful protest, although feelings were running pretty high.

“The fact that so many people could go and stand out there in front of the buses on such a cold day showed how strongly they felt.

“A very substantial number of the protesters were pensioners and they all threw their walking sticks in front of the buses!

“The drivers were great about it. A police constable did turn up, but he didn’t make any arrests as he probably realised that arresting an 80-year-old would not be a good idea.

“The protest aimed to show First Bus that there is a strong sense of feeling about this and that they should review their changes. They have to sit up and listen now.

“We’ve made our point and hopefully First Bus will take us seriously, but we have not given up and there are bigger protests to come!”

Residents are angry the company plans to make big changes to the hourly 313 service between Huddersfield and Hepworth, so that it bypasses New Mill and Jackson Bridge.

First Bus has said that it is revising the timetable because the figures between New Mill and Jackson Bridge are very low and the profitability of the service is poor.

But the villagers say that this drastic alteration will leave many hundreds of people living the community isolated and forced to walk over a mile to their nearest bus stop.

Mr Brook added: “They are taking off vital stops and these changes are going to effect everybody, not just the elderly. Hundreds, even thousands of people, are going to be affected by this. The 313 service provides a vital link between New Mill and Jackson Bridge, and yet this is going to be cut completely.

“Cutting the service will have a massive impact on people living there and they will have to walk more than a mile to their nearest stop, which for elderly people will be quite a task.

“Other villages, including Scholes, Hepworth and Hade Edge are also going to be affected by this.

“There has been no public consultation and they are putting profits ahead of the people living in the community.

“This service is in receipt of £10m of subsidy from Metro, that’s what the tax payers in this area have to pay, and yet they are getting a poor service in return.

“The company continues to cut its services in rural areas, but the community relies on these local services.”

First Bus has already met with the villagers and local councillors to discuss the changes, expected to come into force on December 9.

Representatives from the company are expected at the next public meeting, being held at Holmfirth Civic Hall at 7pm on November 29.

 

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