Arriva considers residents' proposals following meeting with Eas

Gerry Lee, Tom O'Brien, Ron Adlington, with Labour Park Ward candidate Kris Brown, Arriva head of operations Rick Halsall, Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson, Arriva general manager Vernon Roby



Arriva say they will consider a range of proposals suggested by Maghull, Aintree and Melling residents following the axing of the 351 bus service.

Arriva head of operations Rick Halsall and general manager Vernon Roby met with Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson, Labour Action Team leaders Patrick McKinley and Kris Brown, Melling Parish Council chairman Gerry Lee and local residents.

Maghull, Aintree and Melling Labour Action Teams called the meeting after being inundated with calls and emails from residents concerned about the loss of the 351 service.

Arriva cut the commercial service because they said there was not enough people using it.

But after hearing concerns from residents, including from Tom O'Brien, Ron Adlington and Melling's Gerry Lee about areas being under-served following the axing of the 351, Mr Halsall and Mr Roby said they would look at a range of proposals put forward by resident.

Maghull Labour Action Team leader and Sudell Ward Labour candidate Patrick McKinley said he was delighted the company had attended the meeting and was taking the residents' concerns seriously.

Patrick said: "This company is clearly listening to what the concerns are. We have had lots of calls from people who are concerned that their public transport system in Maghull, Lydiate, Aintree and Melling is being cut.

"People are concerned about lack of buses in some places, about the lack of morning and evening buses and about the quality of buses on routes here in East Sefton.

"Mr Halsall and Mr Roby listened to some of the concerns with a number of residents directly putting their concerns and we have passed on some of the letters we have had.

"They have assured us they will look at the options and see how best the area can be serviced.

"I want to see the company working with the community to ensure they are providing a service which the people in this area want to use. This includes integrating services.

"We need a bus service which encourages people to leave their cars at home and which they would rather use. We will only do that by making our public transport services an attractive alternative to the car.

"With unemployment levels rising and as we see even more people being made redundant because of the cuts to the local authority and the knock on effects of that, we will see a lot more people needing public transport for their day to day business and to get to work.

"We need to make sure that the services which are provided are the services which are needed by this community."

Park Ward Labour candidate Kris Brown said: "It was a really constructive meeting and we were able to discus many of the concerns people here have.

"Arriva has assured us that they will consider all of the recommendations put to them and they will report back to us."

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson said the meeting was the beginning of a new working relationship between Arriva and the community.

Bill said: "It is very disappointing that Arriva have cut the 351 and we told them that we would like better consultation before changes are made in future. We told Arriva that we wanted to work with them to publicise the bus services so that more people use them and so that Arriva can afford to run more buses.

"Arriva explained how and why they have made some of their decisions and we talked about where we disagreed with them. They also informed us that the cost of running just one bus is around £110,000 a year. three buses are required to run a service like the 351. That's a lot of money.

"Now that the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have cut the money for local transport, our subsidised local services will be hit hard.

"But I am pleased that Arriva have now given their assurances that they will fully consult with the Labour Action Teams and local communities before making major decisions like changing routes and axing services in the future. They have also assured us that they will fully investigate all the proposals which my constituents have come forward with.

"My priority is to ensure that we have the best possible transport system for people in Maghull, Aintree, Melling and Lydiate. I will work to lobby the Lib Dem-Tory government for a change in their slash and burn policy to local transport here in Merseyside and I will work with private companies like Arriva to ensure that they are providing a service which is in the interests of the communities in which they serve.

"I'd like to thank Rick and Vernon from Arriva for taking the time to meet with us. I'm sure this will be the first of many meetings."

Melling Parish Council chairman Gerry Lee also attended the meeting.

Gerry said: "I'd like to thank Bill Esterson and his team for organising the meeting. The residents of Melling have a number of concerns about public transport provision in our area. I am delighted that i was able to feed these through to Rick and Vernon directly.

"After years of trying, I really do feel we are making progress now following this meting and I am sure this is something we will build on."