By David Spereall, local democracy reporter
A new west Leeds councillor has hinted there may be imminent “positive news” for local bus passengers, who’ve been hit by a spate of cuts.
Tom Hinchcliffe, who was elected onto the city council for Labour in Bramley and Stanningley earlier this month, said he’d been in talks with operators in a bid to improve services covering the area.
First Bus’ 508 bus was among dozens of services altered in April, with its route changed to cut out Bramley, as well as neighbouring Farsley and Rodley.
Councillor Hinchcliffe suggested that although First’s decision was unlikely to be reversed, a separate service may be re-routed to mitigate the impact of the cut.
The number 9, which runs from Horsforth to White Rose Centre, was rescued by Yorkshire Buses after First ditched that service too.
Speaking earlier this week, Councillor Hinchcliffe said: “I’ve been having a lot of meetings with other bus companies to see if they’ll take on the route.
“I had a meeting with Yorkshire Buses last week. I can’t say anything yet because the proposals are still with Metro, but there will be some positive news and a partial victory coming soon.
“It’s not going to be a magic bullet and I don’t want people to get excited and think the 508 is coming back in full, but the 9 route may have some changes soon which would benefit passengers.”
The son of a postman and a supermarket staffer, Councillor Hinchcliffe, who grew up in Seacroft, joined the Labour Party aged 15.
He’s worked for the Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton since 2017 and earlier this month was elected in Bramley with a majority of 1,966.
Outside of politics he’s a Leeds United season ticket holder and is the drummer in a melodic rock group called Aire.
Among his priorities as a councillor are to set up a number of neighbourhood watches across Bramley, where he says such groups are scarce. He hopes the move will help tackle anti-social behaviour, which like many other areas across the city, is on the rise.
But tackling the shortage of bus services too remains a priority.
When the 508 and other Leeds services were withdrawn earlier this year, First said the decision was taken because these buses were underused.
But Councillor Hinchcliffe said the move was like “taking a hammer to a peanut” and that it had had massive consequences for people living in Bramley and Stanningley.
“I’ve had hundreds get in touch with me to tell me they’re struggling to get their Covid boosters for example,” he added.
“I’ve had to give people lifts and be in touch with Elderly Action to make sure they can get their boosters, whereas normally they’d have just got on the bus.
“A lot of people are saying that because of the number 14 being re-routed, it’s impacted on their jobs at the White Rose Centre. I’ve had young people say they’re considering moving colleges, because they can’t get there anymore.
“These are real-life effects.”
Good to hear the issue regarding the 508 is not forgotten
Let’s hope we get some positive news soon.