Fears have been raised over the future of a ‘significant’ community music project in Runcorn. Jason Baxter, a youth worker, said the scheme could be at risk due to the cut of a vital bus service.
The music teacher, who is employed by the Runcorn-based charity Four Estates, explained that reaching students at Palacefields Community Center was taking far too long for him since the X1 express service ceased in early April. What was once a 50 minute journey from his Liverpool home has now doubled in time.
With three sessions a week, he now spends ten hours a week on the bus and wonders if his role is tenable. A recently hired colleague has already quit after the X1 was shut down.
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Jason, who grew up in Weston Point, said: “I’ve done important work at Runcorn, working with children who suffer from social isolation and don’t have access to music, as well as job seekers. asylum and people with mental health problems.”
He added that the musical project promotes positive well-being and communication by helping people process the world around them, develop social skills and learn to express themselves. He promoted resilience by showing the rewards that come from being determined to overcome obstacles.
A youngster recently won an interview at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, another’s achievements will count towards a GCSE and an alumnus has secured a place at the College of Music. Jason added: “Runcorn is already isolated and lacking opportunity. The social consequences of the removal of the X1 are very detrimental, not only for this musical project but for countless other members of the community.
“This bus should be considered an essential public health service as verification of the damage caused by the further isolation of Runcorn residents, including young people, will need to be recovered down the line. Cutting this service is an act of short-lived. clairvoyance.”
Jason approached Weaver Vale MP Mike Amesbury regarding the X1 after reading his campaign to try to save the route. Mr Amesbury, who met Jason at the Palacefields community centre, said he would ‘continue to press for this service to be restored’.
“I want to highlight this case and others with Liverpool City Region and Halton Council because of the social and economic impact of this bus service cut,” he added.
In March, CheshireLive announced that the service was to cease due to rising fuel prices. A spokesperson for MP Travel told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: ‘We have given notice to cancel the X1 from April 1. It has been left up to the local authority if they want another operator to take support the service.”
He added: “We haven’t had the best passenger numbers and the industry alone is struggling with drivers leaving to move into the heavy goods sector. Fuel prices are sky high for us to operate. , we should consider doubling the fares – which is just ridiculous.”
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