THE news that the long-running strike by Go North East drivers has been resolved has been welcomed across Northumberland.

The county has been hit hard by the strikes, with many communities losing their only public transport link to the rest of the region. On Friday (December 1), union members voted to accept the latest pay offer from the transport company, with services to resume on Saturday.

Staff will receive an 11.2 per cent pay rise following seven weeks of direct action that has caused transport misery across the region. Councillors from both sides of the political divide have welcomed the move to break the deadlock in the bitter dispute.

Conservative councillor Gordon Stewart, who represents the Prudhoe South ward, was also pleased the strike had come to an end. Cllr Stewart had previously called for both sides to ‘sort out’ the dispute due to the impact on families across Northumberland and raised concerns about the future of the business.

Prudhoe, like much of the Tyne Valley in the west of the county, relies on Go North East for almost all of its bus transport. Cllr Stewart outlined the impact the strike had been having in the town.

Cllr Stewart said: “I am delighted that the strike has ended and services will resume tomorrow. The dispute has caused many problems for businesses and residents across Northumberland.

“Shops on Front Street have been suffering because people from Crawcrook and Ryton have not been able to get over, so shops and businesses will be very pleased it is over.

“There has been zero service along the Tyne Valley for weeks. People have said they have felt forgotten about, but the council was unable to step in and offer replacements as the 10 service is not subsidised, so there was a legal reason.

“People’s mental health has suffered because they have been unable to leave the town and visit friends and relatives.”

Labour’s Cllr Angie Scott, who represents the neighbouring Prudhoe North ward, said she felt drivers deserved the pay increase.

Hexham Courant: Angie Scott in PrudhoeAngie Scott in Prudhoe (Image: LDRService)

Cllr Scott said: “I’m pleased they have come to an agreement and I’m over the moon that the buses are back on. The company should have done it earlier.

“It has been a nightmare. I understand the frustration of people that have been affected – it has really had an impact on local businesses as well as people getting to work – but the staff deserve a pay rise.

“A bus driver has so much responsibility, so good on them for getting it. The cost of living has gone up so much.”

Northumberland Labour leader Cllr Scott Dickinson, who represents the rural Druridge Bay ward, added: “This is a long overdue resolution to drivers seeking decent terms and conditions.

“I’m pleased the company has finally budged. We’ve seen how vital drivers are with the disruption caused.

“I am pleased they have managed to end this strike with an outcome accepted by members. Everyone will be relieved services can resume and connect people and communities in time for Christmas.”