Back in the 1960s, the Sussex village of Cowfold was a short distance – a couple of miles – from a railway station that could take its residents south to Shoreham and Brighton, or north to Horsham.
That railway station disappeared with the Beeching Axe in 1966, along with the rest of the Steyning line, which connected Horsham directly to the south coast, despite strong evidence that the line was, in fact, profitable – or at least, certainly could be. (The closure of this line now means that if I want to travel from Horsham to Brighton by train, I have to journey north-east towards Gatwick Airport, and change at Three Bridges to catch a southbound train, a total journey time of around an hour, which compares poorly with the half an hour it would take to make the journey by car).
Fast forward to 2011, and the two thousand or so inhabitants of Cowfold are now dependent upon either local buses, or their cars, if they have them, to make journeys to Horsham, a distance of around six miles, or to Haywards Heath, eight miles away. (I don’t count the bicycle as a reasonable way of making either of these journeys – going to Horsham from Cowfold involves using the A281, a twisty single-carriageway road, much of it with a 60 mph limit, that I tend to avoid as much as I can when I am out on my bicycle. Likewise, the journey to Haywards Heath would necessitate the use of the similarly cycling-hostile A272.)
So – in short – if you live in Cowfold, and don’t have access to a car, the bus is your only option to get anywhere. And now
Villagers say they will be cut off if councillors press ahead with controversial plans to axe their bus service. Cowfold residents have launched a determined bid to persuade West Sussex County Council not to scrap the 86 bus as part of its cost-cutting measures. The 86 serves Horsham, Southwater, West Grinstead, Partridge Green, Shermanbury, Cowfold, Bolney, Ansty, Cuckfield, including Warden Park School, and Haywards Heath, including the Princess Royal Hospital. The service was one of dozens highlighted by The Resident as being recommended for removal by a cross-party group of councillors, originally in September, but now scheduled for October.
More here, with the comment
If these cuts go ahead, a lot of people’s lives are going to be made more difficult. They just won’t be able to get to work, school or college – or will have to pay through the nose to do so. I bet none of the people making the decisions ever use a bus, which is why they just don’t care. They exist purely in their own little Tory lala land of Range Rovers and taxi trips on expenses and have no idea how the rest of us live.
I get the distinct impression that West Sussex County Council doesn’t really give two figs about anyone who doesn’t have a driving licence, or would like to make journeys by any means other than a car. That means children, who, if this plan goes ahead, will be reliant upon their parents ferrying them everywhere by car – if they have one. Or those who cannot drive, or don’t want to – a significant portion of the elderly population.
All these people are one step closer to being trapped in Cowfold.