MORE than £1 million is to be spent on rural bus services in Cheshire East, thanks to a new initiative from the Department for Transport.

Council deputy leader Craig Browne, who also is portfolio holder for strategic transport, told this afternoon’s (January 12) cabinet meeting: “Today the Transport Ministry has confirmed that CEC’s expression of interest to the [government] rural mobility fund has been successful.

“It has taken about six months to find out. £1.26 million will be used for demand-responsive bus services for a three year period from Bunbury, Wrenbury, and Audlem to Nantwich.

“While we must be cautious in encouraging people to use public transport, this is of course a great opportunity to develop the new service as well.

“To have a successful bid for any public funding is something for us all to celebrate, especially for those residents in those areas.

Cllr Browne added that the scheme is expected to launch in June 2021.

The council later confirmed that two 16-seat accessible vehicles will be operating from 7am to 9pm, to allow for journeys to work and school, available to residents on a fare-paying basis.

The authority added that the scheme will also use 'an innovative app-based booking system, which up until now has mainly been used in urban areas by major bus companies and transport authorities'.

The rural mobility fund is part of the government’s wider £220 million ‘better deal for bus users’, which provides councils with ‘additional funding to improve current services and restore lost services where most needed’.

It was announced in September 2019 by then-Chancellor Sajid Javid.