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Statement re: Arriva bus services

1 March 2023

Councillor Craig Browne, deputy leader of Cheshire East Council and chair of its highways and transport committee, said: “Arriva currently provides a substantial part of the borough’s commercial bus network – almost 50% - and many of the routes which link the towns and communities across our borough are long established.“

"As a council, we were disappointed to learn of the announcement by Arriva, which will affect all their routes in Cheshire East.

Cllr Craig Browne  Alderley Edge“However, we anticipate that other private bus operators will wish to consider providing services on some of the affected routes and we are obliged to allow space for them to assess the viability of these routes. 

“Cheshire East Council will continue to monitor the situation closely and once a decision has been made, will review its implications for passengers across the borough. 

“We understand that Arriva intends to carry out a consultation and during this period all routes currently provided by Arriva will remain in operation.”

Cllr Browne added: “The council’s vision for a modern bus network with enhanced service provision and improved infrastructure was clearly set out in our bus service improvement plan, prepared in 2022 in response to the government’s ‘Bus Back Better’ strategy.

“Regrettably, the Government failed to provide any funding to Cheshire East Council to enable that vision to be realised.

“The commercial bus industry continues to experience challenges recovering from the pandemic, and bus passenger numbers are still 15-20 per cent below pre-pandemic levels.  

“Alongside inflation and labour shortages, we recognise that commercial operators are having to adapt, and that this can lead to business decisions such as the proposed closure of these local depots.

“Cheshire East Council continues to engage with Arriva, and other commercial operators, through our local bus partnership arrangements. 

“However, while the council will try to minimise impacts of these challenges for passengers through careful use of our budgets for local supported bus services, we are ourselves also facing significant national funding and cost pressures.

“Unprecedented inflation alongside increased complexity and demand for services has added £33 million to the council’s annual costs to deliver local services.

“Should Arriva go ahead and close its Macclesfield and Winsford depots, the council does not have the resources to fund the entire Arriva network as currently operated.

“This announcement by Arriva is an existential threat to the bus network in Cheshire, and I shall be working with the leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council and our local MPs to impress on Government Ministers the seriousness of this situation for the travelling public.”