REGIONAL transport bosses face fresh criticism and accusations of ignoring opposition in going ahead with controversial bus route changes in Solihull.
As we reported, some Hillfield residents are fighting Transport for West Midland’s (TfWM) plan to re-route the S2 bus service along Alderminster Road.
Ward councillor Joe Tildesley convened a public meeting with more than 70 residents at the council chamber a fortnight ago.
Now he has slammed TfWM for ‘riding roughshod over public opinion’ by proceeding with the plans.
He says the plans are opposed by the majority of residents in the area – despite support from the West Midlands Pensioners’ Convention.
In a series of votes, only two people voted in favour of the re-route down Alderminster Road, with a majority preferring an alternative route down Widney Lane onto Monkspath Hall Road.
Coun Tildesley said: “TfWM have not covered themselves in glory. The consultation process was a shambles.
“I am bitterly disappointed that TfWM did not listen to what was in my opinion a very sensible alternative route, put forward by the Alderminster Road Action Group (ARAG).
“I think the sensible way TfWM could have dealt with this would be to have a six month trial of both routes.
“And I will speak to (West Midlands mayor) Andy Street and let him know my views about it.
“No one respects the Pensioner Convention more than I do, but – I am very sorry – the people that I represent made it very clear they did not approve.”
TfWM said the proposed changes will be introduced on February 24.
The service will operate through Alderminster Road between the hours of 9.30am to 3.15pm, from Monday to Saturday.
It will run for an initial 12 months and then the service will be reviewed.
The plans have divided the ward with the Alderminster Road Action Group (ARAG) fearing pollution, congestion and road safety problems.
They say the unwanted buses will ‘invade’ the residential area already well served by public transport.
Further votes revealed a massive majority of residents at the meeting who feel they are not being listened to by TfWM.
Representatives from TfWM, the ARAG and the Pensioners’ Convention put forward their cases at the meeting.
West Midlands Pensioners’ Convention (WMPC) transport secretary, Mr Eames, told us last month the elderly and less able need better access to buses.
Previously, a TfWM spokesperson told us the proposals were inspired by demands from elderly residents including a petition with 200 signatures and many letters demanding a better service for the less able.
A TfWM spokesperson said: “We were invited to attend a meeting organised by and for people who had concerns over the route along Alderminster Road.
“We listened to the views expressed at the meeting and heard a proposal for alternative services which we agreed to review and look at. On reviewing this proposal it still left a considerable number of people in the area outside of access standards for distance to the nearest bus stop.
“In response to the concerns raised, however, we will now see a twelve month trial period which will see 11 buses a day travel along the road instead of the originally proposed 26 a day.
“It’s important to remember that this is part of a wider review of the Solihull bus network which will help support the local economy and make it easier for people to access job opportunities at key locations including the Blythe Valley Business Park and the Jaguar Land Rover plant at Fen End.”