MORE than 100 locals packed West Linton’s Graham Institute recently to air their thoughts on changes to the 101/102 bus services.

Last Wednesday’s event was initially billed as a drop-in session, but was later reorganised as a public meeting by Councillor Heather Anderson.

At the meeting, residents hit out at the new, reduced bus timetable, which came into force on August 19.

Many gave accounts of not being able to get home from work due to the loss of the late bus, with a number of people claiming they have had to be collected from Penicuik by family or friends who have a car.

Graham Tulloch, chairman of West Linton Community Council attended the meeting.

He told the Peeblesshire News: “We feel we are being punished because we do not have a large Borders town at the end of our route.

“As a comparison, the bus services to Borders communities smaller than West Linton – Stow, Oxton and Eddleston – all have buses that leave Edinburgh around or after the the lost, last bus to West Linton.”

Responding to the issues raised at the meeting, SBC representatives said a belated consultation, which would be distributed via community councils, would be used to determine what users of the 101/102 service would like as a later bus, should one be possible.

Mr Tulloch added: “Whilst we are obviously pleased this is to take place we would have preferred it to have happened this time last year, to provide Scottish Borders Council with the information before the contract was awarded rather than after.”

Locals, who voiced their anger at the way the bus service had been reduced with no public consultation or negotiation having taken place, were also given an explanation of the tendering process by a council representative.

Councillor Anderson (SNP, Tweeddale West) said: “The people of West Linton, Carlops, Broughton and Dolphinton feel personally let down by the council and many are personally experiencing the impact of the loss of evening service.

“Some can’t make their work shifts, others are incurring additional costs renting overnight accommodation and everyone with a car is back on evening taxi duty.”

Councillor Anderson, along with the support of her fellow Tweeddale West councillors, Kris Chapman (Lib Dem) and Eric Small (Con), will meet with officers soon to explore evening options from Penicuik.

She added: “I don’t accept we can’t find some money to compensate for the loss of the evening service. Tweeddale West has met a third of the total cuts budget and the people here need some money put back in the pot.

“We know we won’t restore the original evening service, but we can work to improve provision locally.”

The campaign to restore an evening provision to West Linton and surrounding communities continues.