Labour calls meeting with Arriva over axing of 351

Maghull resident Jimmy Jones with Bill Esterson


Maghull and Aintree Labour Action Team has scheduled a meeting with residents and Arriva's head of operations to discuss the axing of the 351 bus service.

The service, which runs from Liverpool City Centre, through Rice Lane in Walton, Aintree, Old Roan, Maghull and ends at Ashworth Hospital, is scheduled to be withdrawn from March 13.

But residents have inundated the Labour Action Team with concerns that the service, which has been axed as part of a cost cutting process, is relied upon by people along the route every day.

A number of the residents who have contacted the Labour Action Team have been invited to put their concerns to Arriva alongside Team leader Patrick McKinley and Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson.

Patrick McKinleyPatrick said: "This is a very big issue for people who live near me on the 351 route in Maghull. We have been contacted by people throughout East Sefton who say they rely on the service each and every day.

"Since it was announced that the service was being axed, the Maghull Labour Action Team has been inundated with calls and emails from concerned users.

"Arriva have said the decision to cut the service was based on a lack of passengers, but from the number of concerned calls we've had, that simply cannot be the case.

"I understand that things are very difficult for bus companies at the moment, but I do believe the company has made a mistake in this case.

"Without the 351 service, people in the Eastway and Foxhouse Lane area of Maghull have no direct public transport links with Liverpool City Centre. For the Maghull area there will be just one hourly bus link with the city.

"For a sizeable urban area such as Maghull and in light of Arriva's commendable efforts to promote the use of public over private  transport amongst Sefton residents, I believe this decision requires further consultation.

"People have put forward some very valid alternatives which we will ensure that Arriva consider when we meet them next week."

Maghull resident Jimmy Jones, 76, said he backed the proposal suggested by a Champion reader last week - to axe the 350 instead of the 351.

Jimmy told Bill Esterson: "I'm going in for an operation on my knee in the next couple of weeks so I will be relying on the bus service a lot more as i won't be able to drive.

"It makes more sense to me, as suggested by the reader of the Champion, that the 350 is scrapped and the 351 is retained, while the bus stop on Eastway opposite the shops is moved to nearer the junction of Deyes Lane.

"There is no denying that a lot of people rely on this service and I just hope that Arriva reconsider."

Bill Esterson said he was pleased the bus company was coming in to meet with the residents.

Bill said: "There are lots of difficulties for public transport providers at the moment as we all know.

"Arriva is providing this service as a commercial operation, but Merseytravel's budget as a whole has been devastated by the Liberal Democrat and Conservatives in government. This just means that people will be relying all the more on the services which are currently provided.

"Public transport is a vital method of keeping the local economy going. By axing services you are restricting people's ability to get around and from travelling to and from work.

"This obviously damages local business and the local economy.

"But very often the very people who use the services are the last people to be listened to and consulted on what services are required. So I want to ensure that all of the views are passed on to Arriva so they can make a fully informed decision on the future of the services throughout East Sefton."

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