Following First’s decision to axe all services to Kingswells from 1st April, Stagecoach have been in talks with Aberdeen City Council with a view to possibly extending one of their services into Kingswells. In fact things were looking pretty positive initially though there were a number of practical and operational issues which had to resolved. Steve Delaney, Lib Dem councillor for the Kingswells area has been in regular touch with both Stagecoach and the Council’s Public Transport Unit throughout.
Steve updated fellow councillors at this afternoon’s Budget meeting that Stagecoach’s MD has confirmed that they do not consider such a service to be commercially viable for them and they will not therefore be putting forward proposals to serve Kingswells village. The Lib Dem Group proposed increasing the supported bus services budget to £500,000 at that meeting. Neither the SNP nor Administration budgets allocated any increase for supported bus services, having known for five months that the Kingswells service is under threat.
He said, “First have got greedy and they are starting to pick off their less profitable routes in order to maximise what they can squeeze out of Aberdeen. Personally I think it’s an absolute disgrace that this FTSE rated company which was born in Aberdeen lacks a moral compass and has no sense of social responsibility”.
Steve has already written to the Council Leader asking her to call an Urgent Business Committee to consider a proposal from officers on the best way forward and rhe eminded councillors of their previous unanimous support to ensure that Kingswells residents are not left without a service. He also spoke of withdrawal of this route as the thin edge of the wedge and called on councillors to raise concerns with their MSPs regarding the need for better regulation of bus services.
Steve said, “This is a devastating blow for Kingswells residents. A number of residents, some of whom are elderly or disabled, don’t drive and they need the bus to get to work, to school and to medical appointments. There are also a number of businesses in Kingswells which rely on staff from outwith Kingswells and many of them use public transport. Clearly staff working at Kingsmead Nursing Home, Great Western Nursery and After School Club, Kingswells School and other local business are likely to be affected”.
Steve said, “I would urge all councillors to get behind the people of Kingswells and ensure a replacement service is put in place as quickly as possible. My fear it that the tight timescale could result in people being left without a service for a period of time and that’s simply unacceptable. We need to move fast on this to ensure a Council sign off for a replacement service is put in place as soon as possible”.
The onus now falls to Aberdeen City Council to consider providing a supported bus service. Whether or not that happens and if it does, the level of service provided, is currently unclear.
Further updates will be issued as more information becomes available.