AN MP on a mission to improve public transport within her constituency has welcomed the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport to speak with residents.

Andy McDonald MP visited Coundon this week to discuss public transport, alongside Bishop Auckland MP, Helen Goodman.

Coundon has recently seen cuts to bus provision within the village, with the withdrawal of the Go North East number 18 service in May.

The move resulted in the loss of direct bus access to local supermarkets, Bishop Auckland General Hospital and Woodhouse Close.

At the time of the route closure, 521 people signed a petition, led by Labour County Councillor, Charlie Kay.

Despite being a much-valued service and reliable link to Bishop Auckland, the route was deemed to be no longer commercially viable by the operator.

During his visit, the Shadow Transport Secretary met with residents to hear how the loss of the no. 18 service had affected them, and to discuss Labour’s plans for the restoration of vital local bus routes.

Andy McDonald MP said: “Since 2010, we’ve seen the decimation of our bus services across England. We have lost over 3,000 services. Labour want to put those services back and invest in public transport networks.

"In Coundon today, people we’re telling me that they want buses to arrive at regular times and go where they need for a reasonable price. Transport is a basic right; it should be a public service. We already have a fully costed plan to restore the bus services that have been cut or axed by the Tories and then beyond that to further increase the number and range of services and get more people taking the bus.”

One resident, who has lived in the village for 16 years, said: "It is amazing to me that you need to change buses at Shildon to get to Aycliffe when it is only three miles away. It's shocking.

"And such a shame because I am certain that the village would have more visitors from Aycliffe if the bus service was better."

MP Helen Goodman said: "Buses are a big issue here, as they are across the constituency. Today we heard how people weren’t able to get to their hospital appointments and job interviews because of an unreliable bus service. This absolutely needs to change, and is an issue I’m looking into closely.

“Over the summer, I wrote to people with a survey to find out what they think about public transport.

"The response was really strong.

"Over a third of people who wrote back didn’t have cars and used buses as their main form of transport, but they were finding it difficult with the limited services we have. It’s hard for people to get to work because services start too late and finish too early.

"Another big problem was the rise in bus fares. Out of those people who didn’t get a free bus pass, 66 per cent told me buses were unaffordable. It’s not good enough."