Published: 13/07/2014 09:21 - Updated: 14/07/2014 09:37

Lifeline Elgin bus service cut reprieve

Larch Court residents' assocation chair Margaret McLean
Larch Court residents' assocation chair Margaret McLean

ELDERLY residents have been thrown a lifeline after plans to reroute a bus service were put on hold.

However, Stagecoach is looking for parking issues on Elgin’s Newfield Road to be addressed or it will stop its vehicles from entering the street.

People living in the Larch Court sheltered housing complex – many of whom need to use walking sticks or frames – rely on the bus to get into the town centre as well as to GP surgeries and the hospital.

But Stagecoach had planned to withdraw the service after alleged altercations between one resident on Newfield Road and drivers who had difficulty getting past parked cars and vans.

Last week Moray Council unanimously backed a motion put forward to retain the service, recognising the distress it caused to those living in the sheltered housing scheme.

Margaret McLean, chair of the Larch Court residents’ association, attended the meeting and was delighted the local authority is supporting the reinstatement of buses.

"Most of us in here need some sort of walking aid," she said. "Taking away the bus service is cutting off our lifeline and taking our quality of life away from us."

Mrs McLean (70) added: "I’m still driving, but that’s not the point. I still use the bus service because you can’t get parked in the town centre on a Saturday.

"There’s 37 tenants in here and there are only seven with cars. We don’t all drive. If the bus service goes it would be like living in a prison.

"But we’re not going to take this lying down, we’re looking for a way forward to make sure the bus service stays."

The residents are organising a petition to gather support for the cause, and are keeping an eye out for any irresponsible parking, with one incident already being reported to the police.

Mrs McLean believes the problem with parked vehicles is being carried out deliberately and that it is a danger to other road users.

"I can’t believe that somebody could be that nasty," she said. "One of these days they’re going to need the bus."

Mrs McLean praised Elgin Community Council, which has been supporting residents, with members organising a meeting between them and a representative of the bus company.

The day after the local authority pledged its support, Mrs McLean received written confirmation from Steve Walker, Stagecoach’s managing director for the North of Scotland, that the decision to withdraw the service would be put on hold at the request of local councillors, who were to discuss parking with the resident on Newfield Road.

He said: "If the negotiations are successful then we will continue to serve Larch Court. Unfortunately, if these are not, then we will go to withdrawal of the service."

Mr Walker added that the company would be "more than happy" to continue the service, providing buses could make their way along the road to the turning circle without being impeded.

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