Residents stranded by bus strike



Residents stranded by bus strike

by Henry James (August 2022)

SKELMERSDALE residents continue to be left with few transport options as the Arriva North West bus strike continues.

Since July, Arriva North West has had to cancel the majority of its services in the region after its drivers went on strike.

With no train station, many people in Skelmersdale rely on Arriva North West’s bus service for travel in and out of town

Representatives from Unite and GMB members met with Arriva bosses last Friday. Arriva say they put an improved offer on the table, but the unions did not allow its members to vote on it and talks broke down once again.

Fears over people in Skelmersdale being left stranded because of the bus dispute led to Tanhouse borough councillor, Maureen Nixon, telling the BBC: “This town was built for those who drive and if you don’t drive you have to rely on buses.”

Supportive

Cllr Nixon uses the bus to go to hospital appointments with her partner, who has suffered a stroke. She told the Champion that a taxi to Wigan hospital costs £15 one way, while one to Leigh hospital is £32 (one way).

She added since the strike her son, who lives in Blackpool, has had to pay for taxis from Wigan to visit his children in the town. Cllr Nixon believes residents need buses to get shopping and to get to work. She added: “Pensioners use the buses with concessionary passes. Since the strike, parents can’t take their children on days out unless they drive.”

However, the Labour councillor was supportive of the industrial action by Arriva drivers. She said: “Arriva make billions. People need a living wage, which is in line with inflation.” Continued inside

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Another Skem resident, Margaret Highton who works at the food bank at the Evermoor Hub community centre in Digmoor, told the Champion: My husband has a hospital appointment in Liverpool and it is going to cost nearly £50 return in taxis to get there.

“I live in Holland Moor and it costs more than £5 one way in taxis to get to the Concourse to go shopping and then there is a wait because they are so busy. I didn’t go shopping over the weekend because I didn’t want to pay these prices for taxis.

“Pensioners can’t afford to get taxis and they can’t walk. Some people can’t afford to shop. Last night they were queuing for food parcels at the centre.”

Another Skelmersdale resident said because of the strike, his wife can’t catch a bus from the town to her work in Wigan. She would have to get to Pemberton to get the bus from there.

He said: “We can’t afford taxis and we don’t drive.

“It is absolutely disgraceful that they have gone on strike during the cost of living crisis. Skelmersdale is the forgotten town.”

In a statement by Arriva North West, the comany said:. “Despite further negotiations and having done all we can to make another improved offer, the Unions have once again chosen to walk away, causing further misery for our passengers.

“At this point, we are left questioning why they refuse to give their members the opportunity to vote on our offers, which would make our drivers the highest paid in the region.

“We would like to apologise to our passengers for the ongoing disruption that this dispute is causing to their everyday lives.

“On our side, we are acting in good faith and doing all we can to find a resolution.

“We urge Unite and GMB to do the same, reconsider their position, call an end to inappropriate strike action and give their members the opportunity to ballot on our latest offers.”



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