Unite Community launched a campaign in North Lanarkshire, after the announcement that First Bus were to cancel two bus routes X86 and 24 which would see villages in central Scotland with no public transport.
This comes on the back of Scottish government rejecting calls for tougher restriction on bus companies to cover routes, prompting them to scrap ‘non profitable routes’ across Scotland, leaving transport authorities, such as Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (STP), to pick up the bill to provide services.
The campaign started in Banton, a small village located near the town of Kilsyth in Scotland, which would have been left with no bus service - making it impossible to travel in and out the village for people with no private car.
Unite’s Community section held a public meeting on 6 June in Banton village hall, with over 150 concerned residents attending. This led to Unite Community organising in a number of local meetings across the route in Kilsyth, Queenzieburn and Banknock.
The Haud the Bus campaign quickly gathered local support, with its campaign Facebook page hitting over 500 likes, hundreds of people signing petitions and writing letters to their local MSPs, as well as posters being displayed on residents’ homes across the route.
The pressure and profile of the Unite Community campaign lead to First Bus delaying the letter going to the traffic commissioner to scrap the service.
Unite Community held a successful campaigning day in Banton to highlight pressures on First Bus threat and which resulted in a demonstration with handmade placards at the village cross.
First Bus has announced that they will be cancelling the X86 and No 24 and instead replace them with a new 4B service to run from Falkirk via Bonnybridge, Banknock, Banton, Kilsyth and then Croy for six months, on a ‘use it or lose it’ trial. It is a significant win for the local villages to have a service.
Unite Community coordinator, Jamie Caldwell said: “This is a win for the local communities and the hard work and campaigning that residents have been involved in shows what can be achieved when communities come together.
“But the issue that needs to be tackled now is the fact that these companies can take away vital services to our communities if they view them as non-profitable.
“This is why we need to campaign to reregulate the buses and the Haud the Bus campaign will be pushing for the Scottish parliament to do so. They have the powers to protect local communities from this happening - if they have the political will to use that power.”
Local resident and Unite regional officer, Wendy Dunsmore, welcomed the U-turn, adding: 'The announcement by First Bus is a huge relief to the residents of Banton as it retains a vital link for the young, elderly and the vulnerable. This is tempered with the threat of a six month stay of execution as we may lose the service in the heart of winter. This service is vital for basic food and social needs.”
Notes to editors:
For further information please contact Unite Community organiser Jamie Caldwell on 07980 721417 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.