Residents speak from heart about village bus cuts

Photo Neil Cross
Sabden sheltered accommodation residents are devastated that their only bus service to the village has been axed
Heather Spry and Sarah Cookson of Save Sabden Bus
Photo Neil Cross Sabden sheltered accommodation residents are devastated that their only bus service to the village has been axed Heather Spry and Sarah Cookson of Save Sabden Bus
  • Sheltered housing residents asking for transfer out of village
  • Feeling of isolation making older villagers ill
  • Students walking miles on isolated roads with no pavements
  • Disabled villagers losing their independence

Residents and business people in Sabden have spoken out about the effect the bus axing is having on their lives.

Mr Stephen Fell, housing service manager at Ribble Valley Homes, said three Littlemoor sheltered housing residents have already asked to transfer to another scheme, and two tenants in other social housing have asked to move out.

“It’s a major concern. We are the largest housing provider in the Ribble Valley and usually have healthy waiting lists but people won’t want to come now. Sabden is central for most areas but without transport there’s nothing. A good bus service is one of the attractions we advertise in our brochures. From a business point of view the loss of rent will have a major impact.”

Littlemoor scheme manager Glenda Pilkington said she fears for the health of her residents and is also personally affected. She said: “Everybody you speak to in the village is affected in some way. I’ve been here for 10 years and love it, it’s a beautiful place but now I’m concerned constantly for my residents and their well-being. I know it’s making some of them ill.

“I’ve got a car but still used the buses to go out into Burnley socially – now it would cost £24 return for a taxi so I can only do it once a month instead of once a week. I have friends who can’t afford to get out to see their families. I now feel that I don’t want to live in this village.”

Mrs Barbara Warburton (82), of School House Cottages, said: “Buses are very important to me and all elderly people in Sabden. Without them you lose your independence. It’s dreadful, you feel like you are in a box. They are building more and more houses and leaving us with less facilities. We have no butcher, no greengrocer, no hairdressers so we have to get out of the village, but people who drive don’t fully understand the feeling. It’s the same for the young people who can’t get to college and in the school holidays they can’t go anywhere, we’re cut off.”

Photo Neil Cross
Sabden sheltered accommodation residents are devastated that their only bus service to the village has been axed
Gwenda McCullough with her daughter Annabel

Photo Neil Cross Sabden sheltered accommodation residents are devastated that their only bus service to the village has been axed Gwenda McCullough with her daughter Annabel

Mrs Christine Taylor (63) of Padiham Road, is struggling to keep up her regular visits to her sick sister, Linda Calverley, in Burnley. “It cost me £6.10 return on the bus, but at least that’s better than the cost of taxis. Linda suffered a brain tumour last year and it’s important to keep in touch. I was looking forward to getting my bus pass but now I won’t be able to use it.”

She also fears for the safety of her granddaughter Hannah Taylor (17) who is taking A Levels at Burnley College. If she can’t get a lift she has to get a bus to Padiham or Read and walk over the hill into Sabden.

“People have stopped and offered her lifts but she doesn’t know them so she refuses and it’s so dangerous. What is it going to be like when the dark nights come?”

Hannah’s older sister Caitlin (18) has had to move in with her sister Lauren in Clitheroe to enable her to get the bus to work in Simonstone, but this can only be a temporary arrangement and she fears she may lose her job.

The buses were my lifeline, I used them every day

Mick

Mrs Margaret Hunt (87) has lived in Sabden since she was 20 and feels trapped. “I am partially sighted and like to visit my daughter in Clitheroe but it costs me £20 there and back in a taxi. It’s not right, I can’t believe they can do this to people.”

Mrs Hunt has lived in Littlemoor sheltered housing for 15 years and says her daughter Mary was offered a bungalow next to her on the day they announced the buses were to stop, so she had to turn it down because she has no transport.

Littlemoor resident Mick Ayres (64) has already asked for a transfer to sheltered accommodation outside Sabden because he feels a prisoner in his own home. He went on the bus seven days a week to meet up with his daughter in Blackburn and for medical appointments in Clitheroe. “I can’t walk very far, I have diabetes and depression has come on over this. The buses were my lifeline, I used them every day. I’m not on a full pension and now can only afford to go out once a week. I would not have come to live here if there was no transport.”

Another resident who has asked for a transfer from Littlemoor is Mrs Linda Hamer (65) who has heart disease and COPD and needs buses to go shopping, banking, visit friends and for medical appointments. “Now I’m going crazy. It’s making me ill. It’s had an incredible impact on me. One of the bus drivers just smirked when he told me they were stopping the buses, I couldn’t believe it. I wrote to Transdev and also made an official complaint about the driver but I never got a reply. There were always people on the buses I can’t believe those figures they are using, they obviously aren’t counting all the passengers. I need to leave here now, the loss of the bus is just one step too far.”

June Weaving, who fears she may have to sell up and leave Sabden because she can no longer get to see her sick husband daily in his care home. (s)

June Weaving, who fears she may have to sell up and leave Sabden because she can no longer get to see her sick husband daily in his care home. (s)

Her friend Mr Richard Templeton (73) is helping out by doing her fresh food shopping, but it costs him £13 each way by taxi from Barrowford. “I used to come on the bus every other day but I can’t do that now by taxi. We’re old neighbours and have stayed in touch. One day last week I walked it along the Padiham bypass, but it was quite a trek,” said the retired health and safety officer who has recently had a knee replacement.

Chris Dodd (58) who has diabetes and a heart problem does not drive and said he used the bus just to get out of the village. “I was on the bus every day, you can’t just sit at home every day. If my sister Jane didn’t go my shopping I’d be really stuck.”

Mrs Margaret Balmbra (89) said: “Sabden is four or five times bigger than it used to be and I’ve never known us have no buses. My granddaughter works as a nursery nurse in Clitheroe and is struggling to get to work. ”

Mrs Christine Woodward (72) was another regular bus user several times a week for shopping and vital medical appointments. She suffers from heart failure, asthma, diabetes and poor eyesight and says family can help with her shopping at weekends but during the week she is stranded in the village. “We don’t know what to do, it’s making people ill. A lot of people like myself have to do all their errands by bus.”

Kitty Garnett (78) currently drives, but said: “I hope to grow older for many years in Sabden and there will come a time when I need to use the bus but what am I going to do?”

Mrs Marion Procter said: “I don’t know how they expect people to manage without buses. A friend’s disabled son likes to be independent and go to work. His workmates used to take him into Whalley and put him on the bus to come home. Now he has to rely on his elderly parents. They’ve wrecked his independence.”

Retired health visitor Mrs Enid Boyd-Martin (77) cannot drive for health reasons and now has to rely on lifts from her daughter and friends.

Juliet Spry (21) cannot drive due to a medical condition and travelling by bus was her only means of independence. Her mother Heather said: “Now she has to ask to be run here and there so it’s a backward step for her. She can’t get out and her friends can’t get in to see her so she’s socially isolated. Fortunately I work from home but if I didn’t she’d be totally isolated.”

Mrs Gwenda McCullough (36) travelled everywhere by bus. A teaching assistant at St Mary’s School in Langho, she used to have a weekly bus pass. When she returns this summer after maternity leave, she will have to pay £80 a week just to get to Whalley and back by taxi. “I don’t know what I am going to do, I’ve always gone to work and taken the children out in the holidays by bus. I’m really upset, my husband leaves early for work in Burnley and there’s nothing worse than having to ask people for lifts. I used my weekly pass but no driver ever checked it, I don’t think they recorded the people who used passes, I don’t know how they can say the buses are not used. To say only 1.5 people a journey use them is absolute rubbish. I’ve always travelled on the buses and there’s always people on them.”

June Weaving (76) has lived in Sabden for 12 years, but fears she may have to sell up and leave because she can no longer get to see her sick husband in his care home. Clive Weaving (70) suffers from a rare brain disease which means he is mentally aware but cannot walk, talk or feed himself. June has been visiting him most days for the past 14 months in his Whalley care home to give him his lunch and keep him company and she said: “His face lights up when he sees me.”

“Not having this bus has taken my independence away. Friends are helping out and people are very kind but you can’t keep asking people, they have their own lives. I should be able to get on a bus, you just feel like a prisoner when they take your independence away. My 13-year-old granddaughter Louise used to come on the bus to see me but that’s gone now too.”