A CAMPAIGN to save the RUH Hopper service made a breakthrough last month, when Wiltshire Council announced that they would continue to subsidise the service until April 2016.
Doubt was cast over the future of the Connect2 bus service when Wiltshire Council announced earlier this year that they would cut their £130,000 contribution to the service.
However, it was declared recently that the local authority would keep funding the bus until the end of the fiscal year.
A Wiltshire Council spokesperson said, “Money from the Better Care Fund will be used to ensure the current service remains until the end of the current financial year, while Wiltshire Council and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group continue to work together to develop a more financially sustainable service from 1 April 2016.
“Later this year there will be a full consultation on what an amended service could look like after 1st April. All comments received during the consultation period will be taken into consideration before a decision is made on how the service will operate from that date. More information on the consultation will be available in the near future.”
When the cut was announced, Melksham Without councillor Terry Chivers started an online petition calling on Wiltshire Council to reconsider; the appeal now has over 1,800 signatures.
Cllr Chivers said, “This was a fine example of people power. Without the support of our community it’s clear Wiltshire Council would have pressed on and axed this vital service.
“But with the support of the community, we have forced Wiltshire Council to look elsewhere and we now have funding until April 1st next year. Congratulations to Wiltshire Council who have listened to the thousands of residents who signed our petition.”
The Connect2, also known as the ‘Hopper’, provides a direct bus service from towns and villages across Wiltshire to the Royal United Hospital in Bath.
Council cuts this year saw £130,000 slashed from the budget for the service, meaning that without a major contribution the bus could not continue to run.
Recent campaigning has helped retain the service for another nine months, but councillors are certain the fight is not over.
Councillors from Trowbridge, Jeff and Helen Osborn, are heavily involved in the campaign.
Cllr Jeff Osborn said, “This much appreciated result would not have been achieved without so many people signing the petition, as well as writing to their respective MPs and councillors. You made a strong and effective case. This was simply one cut too many. So, once again – thank you for your support.
“Please don’t relax your guard. To ensure the long term future of the Hopper, your effective and well reasoned support may once again be required.”
To sign the petition search ‘RUH Hopper’ on www.38degrees.org.uk.