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Call for improved public transport in rural areas of Lichfield and Burntwood

The Government have been urged to ensure that rural parts of Lichfield and Burntwood get better public transport links.

The plea came from the Community Council of Staffordshire as part of a Commons inquiry into transport in isolated communities.

Chris Welch, chief executive of the Community Council said: “Many rural dwellers who don’t have access to a car are finding it a real challenge to reach the services they need – whether that’s a hospital, post office, bank or shop – because of cuts in public transport.

“Only 42 per cent of households in the most rural areas have a regular bus service – compared with 96 per cent of urban households, while rural dwellers travel 10,000 miles each year compared with 6,400 by their urban counterparts.

“The Government must take a joined-up approach to rural transport services before people living in rural communities become even more isolated and disadvantaged.”

The Community Council is one of the members of Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) which is calling for five outcomes from the inquiry:

  • The Government must accept that essential rural transport services will always need subsidies.
  • Local authorities should be obliged to provide core rural transport services and support community transport schemes that fill in the gaps.
  • Better connectivity and partnership working between all transport providers – bus, rail, community transport and taxis – is needed to give the best service with the resources available.
  • Recognition of the needs of vulnerable groups, including the young, elderly, jobless and disabled, in isolated communities.
  • Better communication of the services that are available.

ACRE chief executive Janice Banks, who gave evidence to the House of Commons Transport Committee’s inquiry said: “Communities need bespoke solutions for their transport problems – and this means transport providers, local authorities, rural community councils and community volunteers sitting down together to work out the best approach.

“Until the Government recognises the scale of the transport challenges facing people in rural communities, we are going to see more unemployed people missing out on job offers, more children missing out on after-school activities and more vulnerable people missing out on vital medical appointments.”

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