In a peninsula like Cornwall with many rural and remote areas, there will always be challenges to building a really resilient public transport structure. The majority of people in Cornwall continue to use public transport primarily for local journeys including school students who depend on these services to travel freely to school and college.
In recent weeks, however, I have been contacted by a number of concerned parents about the Council’s decision to end the link transport services from the villages of Mawnan Smith and Constantine. For many students, the bus service is a vital link from their villages transporting them safely to Mabe whereby they can join the main transport service to Truro college. The Council have stated that their decision to suspend the link transport services is merely an application of an existing policy and that there is no national statutory legal obligation for them to provide the link transport services. However, because Cornwall is unique we should expect our Council to tailor policies that are right for Cornwall. We want to support young people further their careers and their skills and what is set as a national set of minimum criteria should not be what guides the policy actually adopted here in Cornwall.
Currently there are no alternative public transport options available to the families and students affected by the Council’s decision. Moreover, it appears that little thought has been given as to how students will make the journey to Mabe, with the Council stating that students and families are expected to make their own travel arrangements despite the only options available being to travel by car or walk.
For many families this decision will have an economic impact with extra money likely to be required for fuel or a taxi service. Money that some families just don’t have. Equally there is also an environmental impact to be considered at a time when the Council have committed to promoting greener and more sustainable public transport. Moreover, there will also be an unavoidable pressure of extra vehicles on the routes to Mabe.
In a bid to resolve the situation, I have been working closely with Cllr John Bastin, the local Councillor for the area to achieve a sensible outcome. Recently there was a public meeting in which Council officers, Cllr Bastin, a representative from my office met with students and parents affected by this issue. From the feedback that I have had it appears that this was a largely positive meeting, and I would like to take the time to thank all of the students who attended and raised their concerns on an issue that will affect them.
Following on from this meeting there has been some speculation that the Council might be considering reviewing their decision to end the link transport service. Whilst this is positive news, there remains a long way to go before the link transport is reinstated. I will continue to work closely with Cllr Bastin and Cornwall Council to find a solution that works for everyone. If you have been effected by the plans to suspend this service then please do not hesitate to get in touch with Cllr Bastin at: firstname.lastname@example.org or with my office via email at: email@example.com and I will endeavour keep you updated with developments.