A SENIOR councillor is calling on residents to write to Welsh Government with their concerns over changes to bus services.

Earlier this month The Leader explored the changing bus provision across Flintshire as a result of the withdrawal of commercial services and changes to council subsidies.

Among those who spoke on the issue was Treuddyn councillor Carolyn Thomas, Flintshire Council’s cabinet member for Streetscene and countryside.

Cllr Thomas has since confirmed that the authority has had an issue when putting a replacement service for the 40 and 63 services (which ran through Nercwys, Treuddyn, Llanfynydd, Ffrith, Cymau, Abermorddu to Caergwrle) out to tender.

She said: "No operator bidded for any of the contracts.

"We have put a mini bus in place while we look at other options including running our own buses procured through grant funding.

"I am aware there have been capacity and access issues and we are looking into another solution."

Cllr Thomas said Flintshire Council has recently acquired an operator's license to run local transport solutions which are not covered by commercial operators.

The council has also advertised internally to see if any waste and recycling drivers are interested in an additional role of driving council buses - which would require extra training and DBS checks.

Connah's Quay resident Elen Farr told the Leader she has serious concerns over the bus provision in the area.

She currently uses the Arriva 12 and 13 buses but as the Leader has previously reported, those services are to be withdrawn by the company.

Mrs Farr said she will now face a longer walk to access the service she needs.

The 65-year-old retired primary school teacher said: "My only option is a 20 minute walk to catch a no 10 Arriva bus to go to Chester or the same bus to the High Street where I can catch a second bus to Broughton, where I look after my granddaughter once a week.

"I am fortunate that I am able to walk 15 to 20 minutes to a bus stop but there are many many others in my area who relied on these buses for medical, shopping and social reasons, who cannot walk this distance to catch an alternative bus.

"The council did give us a local travel arrangement mini bus. It does not seem to be a satisfactory answer to the problem to my mind."

Cllr Thomas said: "At the moment councils cannot run buses in competition with commercial operators.

"Councils can link people to hubs connecting with the network.

"They can also provide subsidies but with cuts in Government funding and bus operators now requesting six figure sums it is unaffordable.

"The issue is not just Flintshire wide but also across Wales and across the border in England.

"Welsh Government is currently looking at public transport in Wales and now have devolved powers to change the way it is run.

"They are consulting on introducing regulation of services, giving local authorities powers to run their own transport, franchising of routes amongst other areas."

Cllr Thomas said plans to trial an app for booking an on-demand transport service may not be accessible to all residents.

She added: "Many residents affected are elderly and worried about access to medical appointments, services, shops. I am worried about their physical and mental health and well being that isolation brings if they are not able to get out and about."

The Welsh Government launched a white paper setting out proposals for improving the legislative framework in Wales for how bus services are planned and delivered.

Although the closing date for responses to the paper was March 27, Cllr Thomas is calling on residents to continue making their voices heard on the issue. She added: "I would ask that residents write to Welsh Government direct or via their AMs while consultation is taking place.

"The consultation for the initial white paper has closed but I am told there will probably be another."

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “We are working closely with Flintshire County Council to investigate ways for improving bus services in the area which we fully understand are a vital part of life for people of all ages.

“Our white paper aims to improve public transport and make it safe, reliable, environmentally-sustainable and accessible to all and we are currently carefully considering responses to the consultation.

“It is clear that deregulation of bus services in the 1980s has not worked and that’s why we, as a responsible government, are taking forward significant reforms and legislation.

"Delivering a quality, sustainable bus service that communities throughout Wales expect and deserve is a priority for the Welsh Government and the action we are taking is clear proof of our commitment to ensuring a healthy future for the industry.”