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Kinloss Army Barracks opens fire on Stagecoach over cuts

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The Kinloss Army Barracks has opened fire on a bus company amid plans to slash services, arguing the cuts will have a “catastrophic effect” on forces families.

Stagecoach intends to drop several routes across Moray – leaving residents without links which they have claimed are essential.

The company insists the changes have been made out of economic necessity and will improve the reliability of connections.

But proposals to terminate the 36 service between Forres and Kinloss have provoked fury, with villagers arguing that they will be left adrift.

And now soldiers at the Kinloss Army Barracks say dropping the route will leave their loved ones “isolated”.

The staff officer for the 39 Royal Engineer regiment, Ruth Douglas, outlined the “considerable impact” the cuts will have on forces personnel.

She said: “We face a logistical nightmare for our families who use the bus to access employment, medical appointments or college.

“With many of the personnel coming from down south, they often have no extended family nearby and access to Forres, Elgin and wider Moray is incredibly important.

“It is deeply concerning to think that our families will be isolated unless fortunate enough to have access to a vehicle, or they are able to afford taxi fares regularly.

“These changes come at a time when some of our young people are sitting exams, they will be under enough stress without the worry of how they will get to and fro.”

Highlands and Islands MSP, Douglas Ross, recently brokered a meeting between Mrs Douglas and the managing director for Stagecoach’s North of Scotland division, Mark Whitelocks.

Mr Ross blasted the changes as “draconian” and pressed for them to be put on hold.

But yesterday, he revealed that Stagecoach had advised him that would not be possible.

Moray MSP, Richard Lochhead, has also been in negotiations with barracks chiefs and the bus firm.

He added: “The fact that so many service families will be affected illustrates the detrimental impact the withdrawal of local bus services will have on many communities.”

Stagecoach stressed that the 36 service was not being used enough to cover costs and refused to back down.

A spokeswoman said: “We are operating in a challenging economic environment and we are having to make some difficult decisions.

“We understand that some changes may be unwelcome, however no change is not an option.

“Our proposals ensure that the vast majority of locations and customers we currently serve will continue to be served.”

The 30 service from New Elgin to Larch Court will also be withdrawn while the 31 to Bilbohall and Pinefield and 32 to Spynie Hospital will be removed and incorporated into other routes.

The 33 from Elgin to Lossiemouth will now be every 20 minutes, but will no longer run from Lesmurdie Road to Newmill Road.

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