Thursday, 11 February 2016

Article in n,d.j

North Devon Journal

Holsworthy couple feel isolated by poor transport links

By NDJJoe  |  Posted: February 11, 2016

Mark, 53, and Enid Raines, 59, find getting around difficult due to Enid's health problems

A MARRIED couple from Holsworthy say they feel isolated in their own home due to poor transport links in the town.

Mark, 53, and Enid Raines, 59, find getting around difficult due to Enid's health problems and the lack of public transport links.

But Devon County Council says the funding for public transport in Holsworthy has not been reduced and there are now extra bus journeys available to the health centre and hospital.

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Enid struggles with her breathing and knees making it difficult to walk even a short distance.

She has to book a car from the Holsworthy Rural Community Transport Service in order to get to doctors' appointments in town and these cars must be booked well in advance.

For former mental health worker Mark it is about more than just getting to doctors' appointments.

He said: "When Enid could walk more things were a lot easier but now it's more difficult to get to appointments because of the notice you have to give.

"If an urgent doctor's appointment was booked in for the same day we wouldn't be able to make it.

"If I wanted to take my wife out for the day as a treat we'd really struggle to do it. Taxis are prohibitively expensive

and difficult to get hold of.

He added: "The buses come very rarely and only really go to Bideford or Barnstaple."

Mark is aware there will be others in the same position.

He is hoping by speaking out others will feel more confident in coming forward with their complaints.

Holsworthy mayor John Allen has acknowledged there is a problem with transport links in the town, for which he blames county council cuts.

He said: "The area is suffering from the severe cut backs imposed on us by Devon County Council.

"It's affecting people who want to visit the town as well as residents wanting to leave.

"Often the problem is you can get somewhere but can you get back? However, I do understand the county council has faced tough choices after recent government cut backs."

Mr Allen is pleased with the work of the Holsworthy Rural Community Transport Service but says the service is limited by its ability to find funds.

A spokesman for Devon County Council said: "The council has not reduced its funding for public transport in the Holsworthy town area, and we are now in fact funding extra bus journeys to the health centre and hospital.

"In addition, the amount of funding that we give to local voluntary car schemes has also increased in the past two years."

Holsworthy's county councillor, Barry Parsons, said he knew some time ago transport links in Holsworthy were going to be put under strain.

He said: "What we have tried to do is put some more capacity into our transport links with schemes like the rural transport service.

"We always knew our links would be for the chopping block."

A spokesman for Stagecoach, which operates buses in the area, said: "Stagecoach already provides bus services between Holsworthy and destinations across Devon including Barnstaple, Okehampton and Exeter.

"Devon County Council subsidise a number of these – as well as other bus services in the area – as they have a responsibility to ensure that socially necessary services are provided.

"The current usage level of bus services in Holsworthy would not support any enhancements without additional financial support from the council to cover the running costs."


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