FOREST councillors say it is not good enough that they were kept in the dark by Stagecoach and Gloucestershire County Council “yet again” over cuts to bus routes.
The bus firm announced earlier this month that it was cutting bus routes used by some of Gloucestershire’s most vulnerable communities.
Deputy leader Paul Hiett (Progressive Independents, Bream) asked transport champion Clive Elsmore (Ind, Coleford) if he was consulted by either the county council or Stagecoach prior to their announcement of the reductions in services.
“The reason I ask the question is because no cabinet member, no councillor and no officer was consulted prior to those announcements which people will find really damning.”
Cllr Elsmore said the answer was a simple no. Cllr Hiett said: “The last time the county council negotiated with Stagecoach we had a similar thing happen.
“Myself and (district and county councillor) Alan Preest got the member for the county council down here along with senior officials from Stagecoach. We asked them to never ever do this again. And yet history seems to have repeated itself.
“Once again, the county council and Stagecoach have not consulted with this authority thereby reducing the services we receive in the Forest of Dean. It’s not good enough.”
A spokesperson for Gloucestershire County Council said the decision to cut the routes was Stagecoach’s alone to make as a commercial business. They said: “Since we were first told about Stagecoach’s cuts, we have worked tirelessly to get this decision reversed.
“Unfortunately, our efforts to convince Stagecoach senior leaders to explore a different solution, one that did not leave communities isolated and cut off from vital services, education, and employment, were unsuccessful. We have acted without hesitation to try to get these routes picked up by other operators where possible.”
A Stagecoach spokesperson said: “We provided Gloucestershire County Council with the required notice in August 2022 to allow them to make timely decisions around their future plans for these contracted services.
“We understand they are now in the process of finding an alternative operator. Any update on the status of these tenders will need to be communicated by Gloucestershire County Council.”