Council protests at bus cut plan

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Longridge Town Council has condemned the proposed cuts to rural bus services by Lancashire County Council.

Councillors have decided to ask County Hall’s cabinet member for transport, Coun John Fillis, to urge his colleagues to look again at the proposals, which could see subsidies pulled from 72 services from May 18.

The town council heard that the impact of axing evening and Sunday services would be devastating to both the rural working community
and vulnerable residents in outlying villages.

“We would like the county to consider providing a rural premium to protect these bus services,” the council stated.

Borough and county representative Coun David Smith said he had informed all his 12 parishes, including Longridge, of the proposals.

He added: “We are an easy target to save money and all should respond.”

The Lancashire County Council public consultation on proposals for rural bus services concludes this Friday, having started on December 17.

Longridge Town Council has responded by deploring the plans and all 12 rural parishes in the Ribble Valley have been informed of the situation by borough and county councillor David Smith after he had received the report.

“I suggested they responss and I have been in regular contact since,” said Coun Smith, who totally opposes the cuts. He told the town council that the issues around reduced bus services which affect this part of the Ribble Valley were being felt throughout the county in varying degrees.

“The cuts will have a devastating affect for those getting to work in the evenings, those going to medical and dental appointments. They are a real hit on rural communities. affecting the young and senior citizens alike. and I and my Conservative colleagues will be fighting them at County Hall.

“We will be submitting an amendment at the budget meeting reversing any attempt to reduce services.

“County CounJohn Fillis needs to realise that passenger numbers in sparse rural areas cannot match those in more urban areas, and allowances should be made.”

In a statement explaining the need for the cuts, the LCC’s Bus Services Team said: “As a result of the local government finance settlement and existing budget pressures, the county council has already committed to saving over £200mby March 31, 2014. Following recent announcements by the government over future funding, we now need to find further estimated savings of £300m between 2014 and 2018. This means that the council has to consider making these savings by reducing costs and reshaping the way services are delivered.

“Proposals for how we can make those savings are being considered by the council’s cabinet and will be discussed at a full meeting on February 20. As part of a range of proposals, we are looking to reduce the amount of money we spend to support bus services in the county each year by withdrawing the funding to subsidise bus services during the evenings and on Sundays. We are also considering a proposal for the non-replacement of future deregistered commercial bus services.”