Petition to keep key buses routes in Market Harborough and Lutterworth handed to county council

Campaigners outside County Hall as they went to hand in the petition
Campaigners outside County Hall as they went to hand in the petition

A huge petition on Harborough buses has just been handed in to County Hall.

The ‘Save Our Bus Services’ (SOBS) petition with almost 2,900 signatures, has now been formally received by Leicestershire County Council.

The Harborough petition called on the County Council to think about the impact on the Harborough area if local bus services are lost.

The county council plans to review its bus provision by June 2019. The county wants to save £400,000 on the cost of public transport subsidies.

At risk are Harborough’s 33 and 58 bus services.

Market Harborough’s number 33 town-and-around bus service could be axed because it doesn’t come close to paying for itself. The service costs Leicestershire County Council £109,000 a year to keep it running, the Mail has been told.

The 58 service, which links Market Harborough and Lutterworth via seven villages was also put at risk when operating bus company Arriva pulled out in July.

Simon Finnie, area managing director for Arriva, told the Mail “consistently low passenger numbers” made the service “commercially unviable”.

Leicestershire County Council has stepped in with a short-term subsidy which will keep the service running until the June 2019 review.

Harborough district councillor Barbara Johnson, who helped collect the petition, has addressed the county council, outlining the levels of subsidies and stressing the Harborough community’s need for a regular bus service.

Cllr Phil Knowles who also attended the meeting said: ”The council committee can be in no doubt of the importance the people of Harborough place on these services.

“Almost 2,900 signatures is a huge figure and Barbara made sure the committee were aware of all the issues involved.”

Leicestershire County Council will need to balance demands from across the county before making its final decision on which bus routes to subsidise in the future, and where to make cuts.

Cllr Knowles said the county council is also in discussions with Harborough District Council to see if the District can assist with bus subsidies.