Wiltshire Publications

Second petition presented for ‘Hopper’ campaign

PEOPLE campaigning to save Wiltshire’s Connect2 bus service, aka ‘the Hopper’, presented a second petition to County Hall recently.

The petition, with a total of 5,000 signatures, was taken to Wiltshire’s Health and Wellbeing Board, as the attempts to save the bus from being axed continue. The campaign has been running throughout this year since Wiltshire Council announced it would no longer fund the subsidised hospital transport service.

Wiltshire independent councillor Helen Osborn, who has been instrumental in the campaign said, “The petition’s object was to secure the future of this valuable service.  We wish to sincerely thank all those who attended the lobby and signed the petition.

“It is now recognised that the long term future of the Hopper depends upon the NHS, via Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), making a financial contribution.  We understand that £75,000 is required. It is fully appreciated that the NHS is financially strapped, but not to provide this relatively small sum really would be a totally false economy.

“If the Hopper ceases, people requiring outpatient treatment will find it difficult to attend the RUH, and their condition would worsen, become acute, and the ultimate costs of their being hospitalised will be considerably greater than £75,000.

“To expect link schemes and community buses to pick up the Hopper service demands would in effect destroy them.

“The case for retaining the Hopper is irrefutable, but it seems we must continue to campaign and lobby until common sense prevails.  Please raise this important cause wherever you can, especially in writing to Wiltshire CCG, Southgate House, Pans Lane, Devizes, SN10 5EQ.”

As a result of a petition submitted earlier this year, funding was secured to run the service until April 2016. However, the service’s future beyond that is still unknown.

The Hopper offers a minibus pick-up and drop off service for people across the county to travel to the RUH. It offers a safer and more convenient alternative to public transport.