The public meeting to allow bus users of rural East Lothian to voice their concerns to Council leaders filled Trevelyan Hall to capacity, with many standing at the entrance to listen in.
In attendance were Council leader Paul McLennan (SNP), Councillor Donald Grant (Labour) and both the MSP Iain Gray and MP Fiona O’Donnell. There were also a number of other sitting and prospective councillors hoping to be elected and re-elected in a few days time.
Whilst there was some inevitable party political banter Ormiston community council leader Jim Blane kept a lid on proceedings, focussing on permitting members of the public to air their concerns.
Some of the key points to emerge were:
- Lothian buses is to take over the moment First withdraws its services to Ormiston & Pencaitland
- Fares will follow the model already applied by Lothian across the whole of its existing network. This should mean they are below First’s fares.
- Paul McLennan indicated a willingness to see more active involvement from actual bus users, Rural East Lothian Bus Users (RELBUS) and Community Councils on ELC’s decision-making on buses.
Less clear was the fate of other uncommercial services such as the Gifford Circle (now the 123) and services for Elphinstone, Glenkinchie and New Winton. In the latter case Councillor Jim Gillies claimed he had received concerns from 23 residents when their bus service stopped around a year ago, and still have no means of getting to other parts of the county.
Many expressed relief that a rural transport crisis has been avoided and welcomed the news that Lothian will take up when First withdraws. However, just as many expressed doubts about whether wider issues surrounding non-commercial connections to and between rural parts of East Lothian, would be pursued or dropped once a new Council is elected.
Q. Would you like to join in and be consulted on ELC decisions affecting rural bus service provision?
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