Villages between Market Harborough and Lutterworth set to lose vital bus

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The bus service that links Market Harborough to Lutterworth is to be axed in July, the bus company says.

The Hinckleybus service no. 58, which offers six services in each direction between the two towns from Monday to Saturday, will disappear after Sunday, July 15.

The bus is a vital link for A4304 villages along the route, including Walcote, South Kilworth, North Kilworth, Husbands Bosworth, Theddingworth and Lubenham.

Harborough District Council’s Conservative deputy leader Phil King called the news “shocking; extremely concerning”.

The district council’s Liberal Democrat opposition leader Phil Knowles said: “It’s very worrying; these buses are a lifeline for some people.”

At North Kilworth, one of the villages along the route, parish council chairman John Green said the news was “an absolutely devastating blow for the village”.

“We’ve had no official information whatsoever” added Mr Green. “They’ve taken a lifeline away without any notice. There will be uproar.”

Husbands Bosworth parish council chairman Bill Fletcher said: “It’s ridiculous. We’re a rapidly expanding village, a rural centre, and a bus service is vital.

“In fact we’ve just completed a survey as part of our Neighbourhood Plan and 68.5 per cent of villagers said a bus service was of very high importance.”

The abruptness of the bus company’s decision has taken everyone by surprise.

A Hinckleybus notice on some bus stops says the decision was made by the bus company alone, and emphasises that the service had been “fully commercial”, with no contractual arrangment with Leicestershire County Council.

Simon Finnie, area managing director for parent company Arriva Midlands (South) told the Mail in a statement: “The withdrawal of our route 58 from Lutterworth to Market Harborough comes following a review of our services, during which it became apparent that consistently low passenger numbers have made it commercially unviable for us to continue operating it as it was.”

Cllr Blake Pain, the Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for transport said the county council – which oversees public transport –would see whether a reduced service or other transport options were available.

Meanwhile a petition to save the at-risk Market Harborough town-and-around 33 service is likely to pass 2,000 signatures at the weekend.

One of the petition organisers, Cllr Knowles, said “it looks like we might have to extend this petition now”.