Councillors say they’ve got what they’ve been fighting for after changes were made to the route of a subsidised bus service whose shortcomings had been criticised.

The 1 and 2, funded by the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) and operated by Stagecoach, had failed to connect Skinningrove with the Market Place in Loftus, where many local shops and services are situated.

It also missed out the village of Easington to the annoyance of residents there who previously protested at inadequate bus provision with both omissions now being rectified in a new timetable due to take effect from April 2, along with other improvements.

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Simon Clarke said “months of hard work” had gone into making the sought-after improvements which involved extensive discussions with the combined authority and local bus operators.

A statement on behalf of Brotton ward councillors Barry Hunt, Graham Cutler and Martin Fletcher thanked the MP and his team for “getting this past the post”.

It also highlighted interventions from Redcar and Cleveland Council leader Alec Brown and the cabinet member for highways and transport, Councillor Carl Quartermain.

Cllr Hunt said: “This is what we have been fighting for.”

The Northern Echo: Councillor Barry Hunt, who represents Brotton ward on Redcar and Cleveland Council as an independent.Councillor Barry Hunt, who represents Brotton ward on Redcar and Cleveland Council as an independent. (Image: LDRS)

The veteran councillor, who lives in Skinningrove, previously recounted how a mother and her children had been unable to attend the Christmas lights switch on in Loftus because of the lack of a direct service to the Market Place from the coastal village and described how residents were “suffering”.

Mr Clarke’s office said the 1 and 2, whose stop offs include East Cleveland Hospital in Brotton, the Skelton Retail Park and Saltburn railway station, would be extended to offer a more efficient path through Loftus, directly into Easington, and back via Grinkle Lane.

Previous challenges which meant the bus could not connect directly to the Market Place had been overcome, while there was also an improved route planned serving New Skelton and the High Street in Skelton.

Mr Clarke said: “I am absolutely delighted to have worked alongside some of our most dedicated local councillors and the Tees Valley Combined Authority to secure these essential improvements to our bus services. 

“It truly is a testament to what we can achieve when we come together for the betterment of our community.”

Cllr Quartermain said: “As a council we very much welcome the news that adjustments have been made, greatly improving transport connectivity for our residents. 

“This makes key services and job opportunities much more accessible and provides residents a much easier commute between villages. 

“This has been an ongoing challenge for us all to secure from the start and I want to recognise the efforts of the ward councillors who I’m sure will be thrilled with this result.”  

Recommended reading:

Get more from The Northern Echo with a digital subscription. Get access for 2 months for just £2 with our latest offer. Click here.

TVCA previously said it was reviewing requests from councillors to amend services “without hitting the current commercial market” and was continuing to work to improve bus provision.

The 1 and 2 launched last July following a request by Redcar and Cleveland Council for a service connecting several villages in the East Cleveland area because of reductions in commercial services.

However the funding provided was only on a 12-month trial basis with TVCA expected to make an assessment on the extent to which the service is being used by passengers towards the end of the trial.

A TVCA spokesman said: “We’re pleased we’ve worked together to solve these problems and will continue to monitor the service.”