Save the 'Blue Skylink': Airport-Kegworth-Sutton Bonington-Loughborough

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Received Today

2023-04-03 11:16:02

We have just received notification from the Managing Director of TrentBarton that the Blue Skylink across into Sutton Bonington will be replaced on May 15th by a Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) Service, run by Kinchbus, serving Gotham, East Midlands Parkway, Ratcliffe-on-Soar, Kegworth, Sutton Bonington, East Leake and West Leake.

I cannot paste in the notice using this petition technology but will attempt to do so on Facebook. I expect we shall see this in various media in the next few days.

The On Demand system has been pioneered in Nottinghamshire. See The system works on a free app on the digital phone, or there is "a dedicated phone line wher bookings can be made up to 72 hours before a journey"

I will continue to work with the contacts I have made on the more strategic issues.  Thank you again for your support and for signing the petition. I am sorry that the outcome is not more favourable but residents of Kegworth should realise that their village may not have been included in the Nottinghamshire DRT scheme but for the proactive approach of this Leicestershire Parish Council. 




Kegworth Parish Council

Closed and thank you

2023-03-17 16:19:39

Hello all

I wanted to thank you all very much for signing the petition, 666 in all, including some well made points within the many comments.

I have closed the petition and will set about printing off signatures, and using the results further to press the case. I have nothing to add to the last update, which you should read again carefully. I am not convinced that the strategic issues for the Freeport travel to work area and the strategic needs of the Airport and East Midlands Rail are being addressed. That is something I personally will not let go of. I have to say that Leiecestershire County / Local Transport Authority have proved relatively unhelpful, a stark contrast with Nottinghamshire. 

Because (excellent by the way) is new to me, I do not know whether I can continue to update you after closing the petition. I probably can, but, just in case you need to get in touch for an update or anything else, my e-mail address at the Parish Council is My mobile number is 07952 488990.

Thank you and with Good wishes


Ray Sutton

Kegworth Parish Council

The latest

2023-03-11 12:43:50

Thank you for all your support. It is still the case that some of you do not understand that we are talking about only the part of the blue Skylink that goes from the Airport through North Kegworth and Sutton Bonington to Loughborough. Having said that, the future lack of 'through' journeys may be an issue for some communities eg Loughborough to Long Eaton or Nottingham, Kegworth to QMC, Sawley to SEGRO, Kegworth to and from Sutton Bonington/Zouch.

If you are a blue bus user or can speak up for somebody you know who is, please feel free to lobby the politicians, especially those at Leics CC, NWLeics DC. We have no evidence that the good work of Notts CC is being supported by Leics CC in any way.

The following e-mail was sent to public figures yesterday after receiving a reply to our Kegworth Parish Council letter to our letter to the Under Secretary of State. It refers to an attachment but I have pasted the DfT reply after this e-mail:

"From: "" <>
Sent: Friday, 10 March, 2023 4:04pm
To: "Councillor Matt Barney" <>, "Julie McMullen-Kerr" <>, "BRIDGEN, Andrew" <>, "" <>, ozzy.o', "Cllr Trevor Pendleton" <>, "Carol Sewell" <>, "CLLR B HARRISON-RUSHTON" <>,
Cc:, "Andrew Priestley" <>,
Subject: FW: Response to Ministerial correspondence our reference:422312

I should be pleased to have any observations on the attached reply from the Department for Transport  to my letter of Feb 6th as soon as possible. For those who would like to refer back to the original letter I have pasted it below my signature.

Please read the DfT reply in conjunction with the following sample media links from late February. The initial media interest arose from our letter to Richard Holden MP and the Kegworth petition and comments.  Curiously, the  first story appears to have been published by Reach PLC in Leicester before their Nottingham team had completed their research.

Kegworth has been preoccupied with asylum seekers for the last three or four weeks. However, that makes me doubly disappointed to be picking up the latest bus service news via the media.

In spite of KPC's openness and the hundreds of Kegworth residents' signing our petition, it appears that we have not been kept updated and that the cross-boundary dimension and integrated transport aspects are still being ignored. 

In the light of any replies I receive from you, I shall need to decide on next steps so that our considerable public engagement is not wasted.. Since we are nearing the pre-election period I am sure you will appreciate the urgency. I remain grateful for the Nottinghamshire CC support since mid Autumn for this cross boundary bus service linking into Leicestershire. It is clear from the media links that Nottinghamshire CC remains proactive but Notts CC can give no reassurances to Leicestershire residents because North Kegworth is not their territory.

 There appears to be much more interest in the proposed Kegworth - Sutton Bonington - Hathern cut than there was in the Airport - Diseworth - Long Whatton - Hathern cut in October. Both fly in the face of proper strategic planning. Neither proposed cut was necessary and South Kegworth needs three Kinchbus Derby-Leicester services an hour a lot less than it needs a direct Trent Barton link to Nottingham and Sutton Bonington every hour. 

We hope against hope to join in and enhance cross-county bus service improvement planning. We think that is a reasonable request when our village of 4200 people is described by Trent Barton as an 'attractor' in passenger-journey terms.

With Good wishes

Ray Sutton
91 Nottingham Road
DE74 2FH
M. 07952 488990"


Thank you for your email of 7 February, on behalf of Kegworth Parish
Council, regarding support for the Loughborough section of the Skylink bus

The Government recognises the vital role that local bus services play in
helping communities stay connected. We also know that there are a number
of challenges facing the bus sector, including lower levels of patronage, and
that this is resulting in some services being withdrawn.

As you may be aware, we recently announced that we will provide up to £80
million to extend the Bus Recovery Grant for a further three months from April
to June 2023 to continue protecting vital bus services and take Government
support for the bus sector to over £2 billion since March 2020. We will
continue to work with the bus sector, including bus operators, on the
challenges they face with the provision of bus services.

The Government is also taking proactive steps to help increase patronage on
bus services by providing an initial investment of £60 million to help bus
operators cap single fares at £2' on services in England outside London from
1 January. Over 140 operators covering more than 4,700 routes are
participating in the scheme which will help increase patronage on buses and
help millions save on their regular travel costs.

The scheme was originally due to run until 31" March, however, on 17
February, we announced our intention to provide up to £75 million to extend
the scheme for a further three months until 30 June. My officials are now
working with bus operators to confirm their participation for this extended

As I hope you will appreciate, however, where bus services are run on a
commercial basis by private operators, decisions such as where to run
services are, in most places, mainly a matter for the operator running the
service. Where there is not enough demand for a bus route to be
commercially viable in its own right, all local authorities have powers to
subsidise bus services. Around one-fifth of all bus services are subsidised in
this way.

To support Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) with funding these services,
the Government provides £42 million annually in Bus Service Operators
Grant (BSOG) funding directly to LTAs to subsidise socially necessary bus
services. Leicestershire County Council receives over £535, 000 of this
funding annually. We also provide over £200 million directly to bus operators
every year through the BSOG to keep fares down and help them maintain an
extensive network.

Over the longer-term, the Government is determined that everyone,
everywhere should have access to great bus services. In March last year, the
Government published England's long-term National Bus Strategy, "Bus Back
Better", setting out its vision for bus services across the country. Delivering
better bus services for passengers is central to this vision, and the
Government intends to achieve this through ambitious and far-reaching
reform of how services are planned and delivered.

That is why the Department has asked all LTAs in England outside London to
commit to establishing an Enhanced Partnership (EP) or consider franchising
arrangements. Indeed, EPs have now been introduced in some areas with
many more expected to follow during the course of this year. These allow for
operators to have a greater role, working with LTAs, to develop and deliver
improvements for passengers.

I would like to thank you for taking the time to set out your concerns. We do
recognise that there are challenges facing the bus sector, but I hope this
response has provided reassurance that we are committed to supporting and
working with the sector to overcome these.
Best wishes,


Kegworth Parish Council

Letter sent to the Department for Transport

2023-02-07 22:26:46



Letting you see the following long letter, sent this morning, is the best way of showing the level and scale of activity that your signature has enabled. If you want to do more, text me on 07952 488990

Dear Under Secretary of State  


Our parish lies on the historic Leicestershire - Nottinghamshire boundary, ie the River Soar, and is adjacent to two of the three sites, all inland, of the East Midlands Freeport, namely:

- the existing, fast developing East Midlands Airport and Gateway Industrial Cluster (EMAGIC) in North West Leicestershire,

- the Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station site in Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire, which is served by the existing East Midland Parkway station.

With the support of the MPs for the constituencies of Rushcliffe and NW Leicestershire, Cllr Matt Barney (Notts),our Chair, Ray Sutton, and other relevant parish councils, we are campaigning to save the cross-boundary section of a 'Skylink' service that serves our respective villages, each with its own Local Transport Authority.  

We are asking you for immediate further support to save the Airport – Loughborough section of the Trent Barton run Skylink service for a further 12 months, or at the very least 6 months so that a strategic review can take place of cross boundary services, to involve Freeport partners and their transport forums, LTAs and all the relevant councils.

It is our view that the Skylink services should be temporarily restored 7 days a week as they were pre-pandemic until such a review has taken place. Our request echoes emerging comments about Rushcliffe Council’s Local Development Order for the Ratcliffe-on-Soar Freeport site.  

The parishes are working hard to restore customer confidence which has suffered since lockdown and particularly after Trent Barton’s precipitate announcement of cuts in  late Summer 2022.  Our own parish has mounted a robust  'use it or lose it' campaign. Two village petitions between them have over 700 signatures. The erosion of trust has increased because of the curtailment of the service at weekends, driver shortage leading to service cancellations and some evidence of a drop in service quality and erratic passenger number recording  

It is anomaly of the Department’s present approach that Bus Recovery Grant, and Transformation Pot funding related to  Bus Service Improvement Plans and Enhanced Partnerships have so far benefited bus service planning and review in only two of the three counties that have an interest in the Freeport: Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire but not Leicestershire. Therefore Notts CC were able to help with a partial reprieve of the bus service in question: Mon to Fri only, for the period Oct 22 to Mar 23. By contrast, Leicestershire have been unable to do anything about a similar rural Skylink section which is not cross-boundary and was suddenly cut by Trent Barton in late Summer 2022.  

Additional arguments for asking you to enable a pause on the comprehensive rural cover included in the  Skylink bus services run by Trent Barton and sister company Kinchbus are:-

1. The Freeport partners tell us they wish to improve integrated transport planning and to give proper weight to recruitment and travel to work capacity in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. In our view this has to include links with the immediately adjoining part of NW  Leicestershire and Charnwood. Far from totally rural, this includes the prestigious University of Loughborough within a ten mile radius of the Freeport sites.

2. The East Midlands Parkway station has a pivotal role in the latest plan for HS2 Phase 2b(East)but it is not even served by any frequent commercial bus service or linked to East Midlands Airport!

3. Funding is needed in both counties: to enable Notts LTA Enhanced Partnership to continue their review; and to make it possible for Leics LTA to be an active and contributing partner.

4. Bus recovery is slow nationally. We support the transport operators’ view, expressed in Parliament, that shifting the 'cliff edge' of Bus Recovery Grant six months at a time, though well meaning, has increased uncertainty about government intentions for bus travel. For us there is no time to evaluate the effect of the recently introduced three-month £2 fare incentive before the next 'cliff edge' at the end of March. In any case, the £2 initiative seems to ignore the significant senior and junior bus pass holder groups and the ability of issuing authorities to offer providers a viable rate of refund against bus pass use.

5. The University of Nottingham’s world-leading biosciences and veterinary medicine campus lies on the affected bus route and many students study in Notts but live in Leics in this village.

6. Continually ailing bus services, even in a Freeport area which has carbon reduction at the top of its agenda, tell us that the green agenda is not being seriously considered. For example, in one nearby village, the cut to the rural Skylink service that runs entirely in Leicestershire and was not reversed has changed a five minute bus ride to the doctor's surgery, for older residents without cars, into a circuitous twenty minute plus journey with a change of bus at the Airport, all increasing the carbon footprint. We hope that you will consider all means at your disposal to address the situation as a matter of urgency.  

It would be helpful to have an acknowledgement of receipt to myself as Clerk to the Parish Council and to Chair  Cllr Ray Sutton, and to receive updates on progress.  

We will make sure that all key partners have sight of this letter, including Trent Barton


Kegworth Parish Council

Removal of helpful but unhelpful signatures

2023-01-31 18:52:33


I did not want to start my updates like this - asking some people who signed to remove their signatures:

Many have signed in the last day or so who are well meaning, but who clearly do not live in Kegworth (principally), nor Sutton Bonington/Zouch (a student maybe) nor somewhere on the part of the route under threat and who travels in to North Kegworth, Sutton Bonington or Zouch. Not saying 'Yes' or 'No' to using the service and leaving no comment or a general one like 'I think we should keep it' are sometimes clues.

We are interested only in people who can truthfully answer 'Yes' ie use the blue Skylink or may rely on not changing in either Kegworth Centre, or at Hathern or at the Airport in future.

If this is a message about casual signing is to you, please follow the route to 'Sign' the petition again. Your will generate another e-mail to your In-box. Follow the link and you have the option to remove your signature from the petition.

These campaigns depend on maintaining credibility with senior people behind the scenes. This petition is less effective I'm afraid, unless some people remove their signatures.

I will send a separate update to genuine signatories some time this week.

Thanks for all the help

With Good wishes

Ray Sutton

Chair of Kegworth Parish Council




Kegworth Parish Council

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