EARLIER this week, it was confirmed that Basingstoke council will be ending its shuttle bus service to Basing View and the Leisure Park- as members approved its 2021/22 Budget.

More than 100 residents commented on the Gazette’s report of the decision, stating their disappointment at the move.

Many felt the choice was based on pandemic use, and not appropriate for when things begin to open up.

One wrote: “They're trying to sneak this through during the pandemic, so people won't miss it until things return to normal and it's not there. They're not keen on servicing the public.”

Another added: “A piece of stupidity by the council. Lots of people use this service - I've seen the queue in pre-pandemic times. A queue that would likely return.”

Despite attempts made by opposition councillors - in the form of a proposed amendment to the Budget - to save the service at a full council meeting on Thursday, the decision to axe it was defended by cabinet member for planning, infrastructure and natural environment, Cllr Mark Ruffell.

He said passenger numbers have declined for "quite some time", adding: "The service is inadequate. It's taking the wrong people from the wrong place to the wrong destination. It will never deliver what it was meant to deliver in the first place."

He said it encourages people to drive into the centre of the borough to then go where they want cheaply, stating that it "contributes to congestion" and that most people using it "are from outside the borough" and that the council's longer-term plans for transport within the town would be more appropriate.

"Trying to keep it running is pandering to nostalgia," he said.

However, many residents disagreed, citing the service’s vital role for work and leisure alike.

One said: “Their own staff rely on this service to park at the Leisure Park to get to BDBC offices to work. Are they mad?”

Another added: “What on earth are they thinking? This service was always well used, certainly at rush hour, as commuters park at the leisure park and travel to the station.

“Parking in the town centre is astronomically expensive for a whole day so this service made commuting, and I say it loosely, 'affordable'. Now I will have to stop using the train and drive into work as parking is cheaper there. More traffic on the roads, more pollution... absolute madness!”

While others fear some leisure facilities won’t survive without it.

One resident wrote: “What a disappointing decision. I don't drive and use it to take my daughters to the leisure park. I guess we won't be bowling, ice skating or visiting the Odeon anymore.”

Another added: “Very sad about this cut. The service keeps cars out of the town centre. It is used by a number of elderly people which may be a problem to the Council as most are on concessions.”

A third simply wrote: “Another step in the demise of access to Leisure facilities in Basingstoke.”