Moray SNP News
Moray Scottish National Party Councillors are calling for the Council to investigate running bus services to address the major gaps that have been left by Stagecoach pulling out of services around the Forres and Elgin areas.
The changes will mean no services for Kinloss, Findhorn and large areas of Bishopmill on the north side of Elgin.
At today’s [Tuesday’s] meeting of the Economic Development and Infrastructure Services Committee, Forres SNP Councillor Aaron McLean had tabled questions about the impact of the changes on the communities affected, discussions the Council has had with Stagecoach and the impact on the Dial a Bus Service.
In response council officers set out the challenges for communities from the loss of the services; they stated that Stagecoach had now rejected proposals from the Council to mitigate some of the service cuts and, while there was some capacity in the Elgin Dial a Bus service to help bus users, the Forres dial a bus was operating near capacity.
Councillor McLean further asked whether it was time for the Council to investigate running its own bus service in Moray to support communities.
Speaking after the meeting Cllr McLean said:
“I’m very disappointed that Stagecoach have not only decided to carry on and remove this service, they also haven’t taken on any of the ideas brought forward by council officers to mitigate against these cancellations.
“Forres is the second largest town in Moray and deserves better than to have a service that comes off the A96, goes through the High Street and gets back onto it again as soon as possible. The people of Kinloss and Findhorn are now also completely isolated unless they have a car and Stagecoach have basically cut off our most picturesque village in Findhorn and one of our largest employers in the Army at Kinloss.
“There is now no way for sick and vulnerable people to access vital health services at Forres Health centre unless they have a car or can get access to the Dial-A-Bus service which is near capacity already.
“Tories and Independents, including Tory Regional MSP Douglas Ross, voted to remove the bus subsidies that supported these routes and that decision is coming back to bite them. The SNP were clear at the time what the impact was likely to be and we voted against the decision. Sadly our concerns are now being borne out.
“I believe the Council should now investigate the setting up of a council bus company that will better serve our communities and let Stagecoach get on with ferrying people between Aberdeen and Inverness since that is all they are interested in.”
SNP Councillor for Elgin City North, Patsy Gowans, has been campaigning on the issue, which will have a big impact on her constituents. Cllr Gowans said:
“The routes being cut by Stagecoach serve an important social inclusion role for families and vulnerable people. Without these services there will be many elderly folk in particular who will be left isolated and not be able to do basic things like shopping in town, and other normal social activities.
“That is extremely concerning for me and social isolation like this will undoubtedly put pressure on NHS and adult social care services in the future.
“We need creative solutions to this issue because if it is not dealt with then the Council will face other costs as a result, especially in social care.”