8,000 sign bus threat petition

County Hall

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Almost 8,000 Lancashire people have rallied in support of a campaign urging county council officials to save a vital transport service used by the disabled and elderly.

As part of £262m in cuts planned over the next four years, Lancashire County Council is proposing to scrap the Day Care Transport scheme, which is used by 891 people.

It says the “very difficult decision” could save around £2.75m a year from 2017/18, with passengers being consulted and helped to find alternative means of transport.

But users say axing the service would put “unbearable strain” on the families and carers of disabled and elderly people, and have collected nearly 8,000 signatures on a petition. Petition organiser Paul Taylforth, 58, whose disabled son John uses the service five times a week, said: “Lancashire County Council says it will protect the most vulnerable. Yet this policy flies directly in the face of that promise.”

Wheelchair user and Coronation Street actress Cherylee Houston has retweeted a link to the campaign.

County Coun Tony Martin, cabinet member for adult and community services, said: “We’re facing an unprecedented financial challenge caused by a combination of relentless central government cuts and rising demand for our services.

“Over the next four years, the council must deliver savings of £262m on top of those agreed as part of previous budget-setting processes.

“This is a very difficult decision to make, but by cutting the transport service to day centres in its current form, we will save around £2.75m a year from 2017/18. We are currently considering a number of possibilities for replacing this service and we will be speaking to people that currently use day centres to discuss their transport options. If transport cannot be provided we will help them to find community operators in their area that may be able to help.

“We know people will be anxious about, so we will be running a consultation once we’ve finalised the details about the options we’re putting forward. We know some people have very specific transport requirements and we will consider these when putting together the proposals. By reducing budgets in this way, we can continue to fund Lancashire’s vital social care services, which help ensure people continue to live independently in their own home and reduce hospital admissions.”

View the petition at: https://www.change.org