BUS routes which bring people into Wrexham town centre, instead of other areas such as Chester, could be prioritised for future council funding.

In a bid to retain bus services across the county, and to help keep people and money in Wrexham, councillors are looking at whether subsidies can be prioritised for bus routes that bring people into town, rather than take them out of the county to places such as Chester.

All 52 members of Wrexham Council were invited a workshop to try to thrash out solutions after Arriva became the latest operator to change and drop a number of services across the borough.

One of the areas affected will be Hightown, where a petition has now been set-up to try and save the number 42 to the town centre, which will be axed when the changes come into effect on March 31.

Hermitage County Cllr Graham Rogers, who represents the area and attended the workshop said that although discussions were still ongoing with operators, and ideas were put forward, much still remains up in the air.

He added that routes which bring people into the town centre could be prioritised for council subsidies, rather than those that take people away from Wrexham.

“We know there is a problem and god only knows how we will solve it but we need to come up with some sort of package”, Cllr Rogers said.

“Some routes are subsidised and we need to look at those as some of them go to Chester and we need to keep the economy afloat in Wrexham. People need to be spending their money here.

“What is happening at the moment is a blow to our elderly and vulnerable and they would like to be able get into Wrexham as they always have done, rather than longer journeys to elsewhere.”

Cllr Rogers added: “Council officers have agreed we will reconvene in six or seven weeks.

“This is going to be a long-term job. There’s no point in putting a sticking plaster on something only for it to fall off a few months done the line.

“There is a Welsh Government white paper on transport that the council has until March 27 to reply to, so we will see what happens.”

“As far as Stockwell Grove is concerned, the residents have now started up a petition to be signed by as many people as possible and be handed in at the Guildhall to show how much that route is needed.”

Peter Francis, one of the pensioners involved with the petition says there is still uncertainty in the community about how people will get by once they lose the number 42 at the end of the month.

He said: “The situation hasn’t changed in the last few weeks, and I understand that nothing has been promised.

“A petition has been organised and it can be found in the shop at the bottom of Norman Road, the post office on Kingsmills Road and we will also be going around door-to-door with it so all residents have the chance to sign it.”

Announcing the changes to routes last month and giving the reasons for them, Michael Morton, managing director of Arriva Buses Wales said: “Services that are being adjusted are not commercially viable and are being modified or withdrawn in order to protect the rest of the Wrexham bus network.

“It is unfortunate that, in recent years, local authority funding for socially necessary bus routes has been cut to the point that Wrexham Council is finding it difficult to provide payments for services that do not make money, leaving it to the commercial bus operators to do their best.

“Free market competition is part of the bus industry in which we find ourselves, as it is in most other industries and those who run efficiently and commercially will always survive.

“Other models, where competition is not the norm, inevitably cost much more as they are publicly funded, whereas more than 90 per cent of an, undoubtedly, excellent network in Wrexham, is commercially provided at no cost to the ratepayer.

“Bus fares in Wrexham have been reduced in recent years especially for regular customers and we have frozen the cost of whole day and weekly tickets for at least the first three months of this year.”