BETTER buses are likely to be at the top of the agenda when councillors are given the chance to overhaul the borough’s transport plan.

Cheshire East Council had been close to adopting its local transport plan for up to 2023 under the previous Conservative administration, following public consultation last summer.

But following last month’s election results, councillors are now set to pore through the plan with a view to changing it, and another round of public consultation could follow if enough changes are proposed.

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And at a scrutiny committee meeting on Monday where the plan was discussed, it became clear that councillors wanted to take the opportunity to give the bus network a boost following last year’s cuts.

Making the case for better buses, Carol Jones, of the Crewe and District Bus Users Group, said: “There is nothing to Leighton Hospital from anywhere on a Sunday, there are no buses on a bank holiday hardly.

“How are people going to socialise? Their health and wellbeing will be affected.”

Members agreed elderly residents could be left behind without adequate buses, along with younger workers who don’t have a car – with Cllr Mike Hunter, Labour member for Middlewich, suggesting people in his ward can’t get to next-door Winsford for work at 6am by bus.

Knutsford Guardian:

He said: “Where people are talking about moving people out of cars and onto public transport, you can only do that if your public transport system is fit for purpose.

“And in this borough, I’m very sorry, but if you live in a semi-rural populated area your bus service is not fit for purpose. It isn’t. This needs to be done now.”

Cllr Laura Crane, Labour member for Sandbach Ettiley Heath and Wheelock, added: “As a working parent, the buses don’t work for me.

“I would love to use public transport. We have talked about it many times – cutting down to just having the one car – and that is not practical. I could not get to work, neither could my husband.

“We all approved a motion at full council last month to say that climate change is a top priority for us, and buses just seem like a no-brainer to me.”

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Cllr Tony Dean, Conservative member for Knutsford, supported the call for better buses – although he suggested the council might have to look beyond 2023.

He said: “The way the world is going, for various reasons to do with health and climate change, we are going to have to move from the car to public transport.

“We are very much behind the black ball in this particular borough. We should find a way to increase the use of buses.

“It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg. If you get really modern, nice buses, you can get a wheelchair on and off with east and they are air-conditioned, they are beautiful to sit in, people will use them. But I do understand that you cannot get the buses if you haven’t got a business justification.

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“I have travelled many places in Europe where it works – and I am talking about places that have the same characteristics as Cheshire East, rural areas, where the buses are quite full.”

CEC hopes to have the new local transport plan in place this autumn.