Letter to the Editor - Why aren't Conservatives backing bus campaign?

August 28, 2009 7:55 AM

Dear Editor,

I was somewhat surprised to see the Conservatives criticise my suggestion that the NHS should consider supporting a bus service linking hospitals in Newcastle (Journal Letters, 28 Aug).

Presumably they are unaware that the NHS already supports a staff bus service operating in this way. Why not think a little more creatively and investigate whether this facility could be opened up to public use, serving an important need in terms of allowing people without their own transport to access health care more easily? The additional cost would be minimal and the extra fare income could help to offset the existing NHS outlay.

I have campaigned for a long period on the particular need to restore a north-south service in Newcastle East, following cuts to the number 3 service between Gosforth and Walker and the scrapping of the 49 service which served this route. Many people, pensioners in particular, tell me they find it difficult to get to and from the Freeman Hospital and Walkergate Hospital since Stagecoach cut these routes. I have led efforts to try to restore a service including regularly raising this matter at ITA and city council meetings, lobbying Nexus and Stagecoach, and collecting a petition including hundreds of names.

I am certain that these constituents will not be impressed to hear that the Conservatives don't believe they should be assisted in this way. However, I can assure them that the Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign on this issue until some form of service is restored. Whilst I am open minded on how this service should be provided, I am sorry to see the Conservatives are so blinkered on this issue.

Nevertheless, I am grateful to their spokesman for demonstrating how out of touch his party is in Newcastle East, where the party have no councillors and have trailed in a poor third place for many years.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Greg Stone