LOCAL leaders have blasted a bus operator for axing ‘lifeline’ evening bus services through an antisocial behaviour-hit village and have urged them to re-think their decision.

In October last year, Stagecoach suspended all services running into the Thurnscoe area after 5pm after missiles were launched at passing buses.

Following a six-month hiatus, the bus operator - working alongside South Yorkshire Police - brought back the services for a ‘trial period’ in May.

However, they said at the time the services would be stopped again should antisocial behaviour continue and indefinitely pulled the 219, 219a and 226 in August.

Thurnscoe is not unique in experiencing issues with antisocial behaviour, the council said, and the number of incidents is lower than other areas in South Yorkshire which still have their bus service.

Sir Steve Houghton, leader of Barnsley Council, said: “The people of Thurnscoe depend on this bus service - people need to travel for work and college and to access vital services.

“Life doesn’t stop after 6pm.

“Under our Joining Forces partnership, our team and South Yorkshire Police are working with the community in Thurnscoe to proactively reduce antisocial behaviour, and it’s working.

“Stagecoach has cut off a community based on inconsistent thresholds across their services, and it doesn’t seem right or fair.

“Of course, we want everyone to be safe, and we’re committed to working with our partners and Stagecoach to get the service reinstated.”

South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard confirmed he’s supporting the council - and vowed to work together to press for the reintroduction of Thurnscoe’s evening services.

“It is deeply disappointing that Stagecoach will not listen to the evidence or use their common sense,” he added.

“Stagecoach should look again at the evidence - there is no good reason why buses should not be running through Thurnscoe at any time or be there when the community needs them.

“Public transport is a public service, and this is just more evidence of the broken system we’re being asked to accept, where companies like Stagecoach have almost total control.

“They’re letting us down on a daily basis and causing misery to hundreds if not thousands of people.”

Wentworth and Dearne MP, John Healey, urged Stagecoach to reinstate the ‘vital links’.

“I know that the police, Barnsley Council and SYMCA have been putting extensive time and effort into working with the community to reduce antisocial behaviour locally.

“Stagecoach’s current position is very disappointing and I am urging them to think again about serving the needs of the local community in Thurnscoe and wider Dearne area who feel that Stagecoach is penalising them for the behaviour of a small minority.”

A statement from the under-fire bus provider said the decision was made as a ‘last resort’.

“This is due to repeated antisocial behaviour and vandalism,” it said.

“We have worked closely with South Yorkshire Police and local authorities over an extended period to find a resolution however incidents have continued.

“This decision has been made as a last resort to ensure there is no risk to the safety of customers and colleagues on board our buses.

“After 6pm the 219 and 219a will not serve stops from Great Houghton, Thurnscoe Lane, Stonebridge Lane to Goldthorpe Fields End Road and Dunsil Lane in both directions.

“Also from 6pm, the 226 will only run between Barnsley and Goldthorpe, Barnsley Road or Highgate in both directions.”