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Eleventh hour reprieve for Sadberge and Bishopton community bus service plan
PLANS for a community bus service have won an eleventh hour reprieve after a bid for funding was entered two hours before the deadline set by the council.
Councillors in Sadberge now hope that a community bus service for the village will go ahead later this year, incorporating other local villages that will also be cut adrift when council funding for current bus services ends.
It was thought that a proposal to create a small, community-run bus service in Sadberge had fallen through at the last minute, when it emerged that a partnership with the Darlington and District Youth and Community Association would no longer continue, leaving some residents in danger of becoming isolated.
But, shortly after the extraordinary meeting of Sadberge Parish Council when the announcement was made, ward councillor Brian Jones and parish clerk Alastair Mackenzie worked together to come up with a funding bid they hope will save transport services for the village.
The pair were able to submit their bid for funding just two hours before the deadline.
The new plan would incorporate a service to help a number of students living in Sadberge, Bishopton, and Little and Great Stainton reach Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College, as well as trips for older residents to the town centre and either Asda or Morrisons for shopping trips.
Darlington Borough Council has £137,000 of grant money available to community groups across the borough to set up community transport services to replace the publicly funded services that will end in December.
All of the bids for funding received by the council will be debated by the cabinet in October, in the hope that the new services can start in January.
Councillor Jones said: “People were very disappointed when we thought we had lost the chance to bid, which is understandable.
“I’m sure they will be delighted to know that at least we’ve managed to submit a bid, so from here on in it’s fingers crossed.
“It’s very early days and we will not know if we have been successful for several weeks.
“We are concerned about a number of students who will be unable to reach college without a bus service and a small number of residents without cars who could not access vital services.
“We have a provisional timetable but that could change depending on what funding we get.”