REASSURANCES have been given that a town will still have a scheduled bus service when a transport review is concluded.

Concerns have been raised that the ‘Buckley Shopper’ will be lost as a result of Flintshire Council’s bus network review and replaced with a dial-a-ride service.

However, the authority’s cabinet member for streetscene, has written to the town’s mayor pledging that a scheduled service will be retained, although it may be operated by smaller buses which run less regularly.

Cllr Carolyn Thomas firmly rebutted the suggestion that a dial-a-ride service will be introduced after the claims were made in a letter written by Mayor of Buckley, Cllr David Ellis.

She said: “Flintshire County Council will not be replacing the current local bus service with a ‘dial a ride’ service.

“Following the eight-week consultation on the future of subsidised bus routes cabinet approved the progression of option three, support bus services on the core bus network and introduce local travel arrangements in areas off the core network.

“This means that all local bus services off the core network, such as the service 21A/B (the Buckley Shopper service) will be reviewed and, where appropriate, will be replaced with smaller vehicles on a reduced service which best meets the identified passenger travel patterns.

“This service will be registered with the Traffic Commissioner and will run as a local bus service to a fixed schedule route and set timetable picking up passengers at designated bus stops.”

She said the future service will serve Buckley’s medical centre and railway station if they are chosen as key destinations when the route is decided with the town council.

In a previous interview, Cllr Thomas moved to allay fears about the bus review, which was launched to make services as sustainable as possible, by ensuring maximum passenger numbers on vehicles.

She added that the council would continue to provide the current sum of £500,000 towards subsidies, but wanted to use the money more effectively.

However, in a letter, Cllr Ellis claimed the interview had caused confusion.

He said : “I am aware that residents have started a petition to save the Buckley Shopper service and within the first week had raised 1,000 signatures.

“This demonstrates the strength of feeling to what people describe as a reduction in service by Flintshire County Council.

“Elderly residents in Buckley describe the Buckley Shopper service as a lifeline for them and feel that your comments in the newspaper as quoted above do not go anywhere near allaying their fears, but have had the opposite effect of confusing them and thereby creating more concern.”

But Cllr Thomas said the new service would be ‘fit for purpose’ based on the demand for travel shown by passengers.

Under the review, companies running subsidised services which are not on the council’s ‘core network’ will have the choice to continue operating them without financial support or see them taken over by smaller minibuses run by either the local authority or an alternative provider.

The future of the 21A/B will be decided by January 2019.

Cllr Thomas added: “During the eight week consultation, to which Cllr Ellis was invited to participate, a public survey was issued so that an in-depth understanding of travel habits could be gained.

“The county council received in excess of 700 responses to the survey, which will provide valuable information when planning the new services.

“Subsequently, the county council intends to work closely with local town/community councils and local community groups over the coming three to four months to plan and configure the new services, and ensure that they meet the needs of the local community.”