Passengers urged to fight planned bus service cuts

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Townsfolk are being urged to resist swingeing cuts to bus services likely to see several routes abandoned.

First Group is proposing to axe three Hawick services: the 75 – via Mart Street, Silverbuthall, Burnfoot, Mart Street and Vertish; the 76 – via Mart Street, Burnfoot, Mart Street and Vertish; and the 77 – via Mart Street, Burnfoot, Silverbuthall, Mart Street and Stirches.

Councillor Stuart Marshall says First’s plans would be a disaster for the community and he’s imploring Teries to contact their councillors and nationally-elected representatives in a bid to force the company to halt what he says are ridiculous proposals.

He added: “While we have been championing the Borders Railway, the eye has been taken off the ball in terms of essential bus links with the rest of the Borders, and these plans, if they get the go-ahead, will take Hawick back 100 years, which is totally unacceptable.”

The cuts bid also met with a furious reaction from Councillor Davie Paterson.

He told us: “This just cannot be allowed to happen as it will make some elderly, disabled and vulnerable people prisoners in their own homes.” He said he hoped that First could be persuaded to think again.

Mr Paterson and Hawick MSP John Lamont have bothrequested meetings with First bosses to emphasise the importance of local bus services.

“Instead of cutting buses, I want operators and the council to work together to ensure that we have a properly integrated transport system,” said Mr Lamont.

Councillor Watson McAteer said he did not believe that the First Bus proposals had not been known for some time by those at Scottish Borders Council responsible for the integrated transport plan for the Borders, and he thought it was incredible that this news followed April’s announcement of a £40o,000 reduction in council bus subsidies.

A spokesperson for First Borders said the company appreciated it would be unwelcome news for customers, but it claimed that operations in the area had not been viable for years.

“We have already met with Borders Council to discuss bus provision in this area, and no decisions will be taken until we complete a full and detailed consultation,” added the spokesperson.

A council spokesperson said that First had only informed the authority this week of its proposals.

, and urged anyone who wanted to make their views known to contact First directly.