'I would be dead without this bus' - fight to save transport link 

Community transport may be scrapped in Midlothian as council tries to save £14m.

Protests have been held over plans to cut council-funded services in Midlothian.

There are fears over the future of a vital bus link that allows elderly people to attend St David’s Bradbury Day Centre in Newtongrange.

Community transport may be axed as the council tries to plug a budget gap of £14m.

Mary Gallagher, who has been travelling to the centre by community bus for 11 years, said the service had saved her life.

“I would be dead, to be honest with you,” the 85-year-old told STV News. “This is my life here. It’s very important. Without this bus, I wouldn’t be able to get here.” 

Karen Murdoch, who works at the centre, described the service as a “lifeline” for older people in the area, providing a raft of social activities and wellbeing check-ins.

She said that without the transport link, many older people would suffer from social isolation.

Ms Murdoch said: “This would have a massive impact on our service users. Sometimes we are the only people they see.

“These people rely on us, they rely on the transport. We’ve got people who are on fixed wheelchairs and they can’t get on normal transport, so they rely on us to bring them here.”  

Waves of protesters have descended onto Midlothian Council headquarters in recent months to fight the proposed council budget cuts. 

At one recent demonstration, Cheryl-Lee Brown, chief executive of Midlothian Sure Start, said: “We estimate that we are looking at 40% cuts. We have six family learning centres in Midlothian and we would have to close two or three to accommodate that level of cuts.”

The proposed budget plans could also see staff removed from libraries, free music tuition reduced in schools and crossing guides removed from zebra crossings.

The cuts could also lead to the closure of Penicuik recycling centre, no overtime for council staff and the closure of public toilets.

Midlothian councillors will decide on their spending plans at a meeting on Tuesday.

Council leader Kelly Parry said: “None of us want these cuts – and we are trying our best to see what we can do in the coming days before the full council meeting.

“But whatever happens, we are going to have to make some extremely difficult decisions, because by law we have to deliver a balanced budget.”

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