TRANSPORT campaigners have accused the council responsible for England’s largest county of a catalogue of failings, including ignoring one of its legal duties to communities.

North Yorkshire County Council’s Thirsk and Malton constituency committee heard the Transport Acts of 1985, 200 and 2008 required local authorities to properly identify the transport needs of people in their areas and determine how the needs might be met. The claims follow the campaigners from a rural area served by infrequent transport services near Thirsk presenting a petition over the issue to the authority.

The campaigners say while they appreciate public transport may not be the answer in the area the council should be exploring other options for residents, whose transport needs it remains unaware of.

Former bus firm managing director and community transport boss Barry Connor told members the council had incorrectly dismissed its duty because it expected funding might be needed and that while the authority claimed to have consulted all parish councils last year, numerous villages had no record of it.

He said: “Villagers are questioning why the council has not identified the transport needs of the area and why they have consistently avoided making available the resources and expertise of its Integrated Transport Department to help the communities find alternative ways of meeting their transport requirements. It has been left for local residents to negotiate with bus companies – surely a role which should be that of the transport department.”

In response, the meeting heard the council stated the 1985 Transport Act placed a duty on it to “secure the provision of such public transport services as the council considers it appropriate to meet any public transport requirements within the county which would not, in their view, be met apart from any action taken by them for that purpose”.

The council spokesman said: “We recognise our duty to assess and consider transport needs, but are able to have regard to cost when doing so. We cannot continue to provide support for services that are not well used.”

However, he added the council would be happy to help find solutions, where possible, for people who are having difficulties making essential journeys.

After the meeting, Mr Connor said the council had denied any responsibility for legal process as it had ignored the fact that they were required to establish transport needs before they established cost. He said: “The request for the county’s transport department to be involved in determining the best transport solutions was ignored. The council claimed adequate consultation has taken place, but parish councils I have contacted have no record of any such consultation.”