A community has united in its opposition to the loss of its village bus service.
And the issue of changes to the 500 Banbury to Brackley service has stirred residents affected in Brackley too.
More than 140 residents in Chacombe flocked to an emergency village meeting on Tuesday to discuss moves to persuade Stagecoach to abandon its plans to axe the village from its service.
Representatives from Stagecoach, Northants County councillor for Middleton Cheney ward, Rebecca Breese, and an officer from Northants highways also attended the meeting.
The 500 bus runs half hourly in each direction with buses every 20 minutes during rush hour. The changes, which are due to come into effect on June 25, will also see the Pavillons Way estate in Brackley dropped from the service, but with new stops at Banbury Gateway shopping mall, Wildmere estate and Brackley’s new Radstone Fields development.
But Chacombe villagers – and staff at the large residential care home at Chacombe Park – say loss of the service would be a disaster, forcing non-driving care workers from Brackley and Banbury from their jobs and isolating the elderly. They say it will also affect students travelling to Banbury and parents and children of Chacombe Primary School.
Villager Iris Dell’Aqua said: “The loss of this service will be a huge problem, particularly the elderly who do not own a car. There are no shops in the village and elderly people cannot even reach the nearest shop in Middleton Cheney without the bus.
“It is unbelievable there has been no previous notice or discussion with our parish council.”
Speaking to the Banbury Guardian after Tuesday’s meeting, Chacombe Parish Councillor Richard Bee, said: “The meeting was very much an opportunity for people to explain the impact losing the service will have on them.
“One of our biggest concerns was the statistics Stagecoach are using appear to be wrong.”
He said when a traveller got on the bus at Chacombe, the ticket machine registered them as having got on the bus at Middleton Cheney.
The meeting heard Councillor Breese would be meeting with NCC officers and Stagecoach to discuss local bus services tomorrow (Friday).
Attendees also heard speeches from younger members of the community about how the loss of the bus service would affect them including a 12-year-old boy.
Brackley resident Georgie Horsler, who lives on Pavillons Way, has created a Change.org petition asking the company to reverse its plans, lodging copies of her petition at the town’s Tesco customer service desk.
Stagecoach spokesman Tracey Warmington said Chacombe residents could use the CountyConnect service operated on behalf of NCC which offers a direct service to a wider range of destinations and can be pre-booked.
But Councillor Bee said: “It is great to have, but if you are commuting you cannot guarantee you can get the bus to and from work. If you have an appointment at the hospital, you have to be there on time. While it is useful to have, it is not a valid replacement.”
Stagecoach says the new timetable will provide more buses between Brackley and Banbury, improved reliability for regular passengers with faster journey times, more buses operating later into the evening and a new link to Poppyfields Way, Brackley.
Brackley buses will run along Banbury Road and Brackley High Street, stopping at the Market Place before serving Northampton Road, Poppyfields Way, Halse Road, Bridgewater Road, Ellesmere Road and Radstone Road in an anticlockwise direction and returning to Brackley Market Place leaving out Pavillons Way.
Martin Sutton, managing director for Stagecoach Oxfordshire, said: “We regret that we will no longer be able to serve Pavillons Way, Brackley, although the new route will mean we can continue to operate at popular bus stops on Bridgewater Road and Ellesmere Road. We also regret that we will no longer be serving Chacombe, although we believe that more people will benefit from the direct route to Banbury via the A422 into Ermont Way, than via the present A361 route”.