DCSIMG

Bombshell cuts to ravage bus services

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A dozen bus services across the Fylde coast could be cut back as part of plans to shed £3.8m from Lancashire County Council’s budget.

A consultation into the proposals, which would see funding for certain evening and Sunday services dropped, launches today.

Routes linking Blackpool to Preston, Lancaster and Fleetwood are among those set to be scaled back under plans that would take more than 250 bus journeys of the roads each week in the Fylde coast.

The council currently spends £8m a year subsidising bus services that are not commercially viable, it claims. The proposals would save £1.8m next year and £2m the following year.

Pensioner Alec Fogg, of North Shore, said he sometimes uses the number 68 bus – which is one of the affected services – to get back from evening meetings in Preston.

But he said the changes will hit residents in rural areas hardest.

Mr Fogg, a member of the Blackpool Senior Voice Forum, said: “I think the problem is they assume people all have cars but they don’t.

“It’s a sign of the times – you have got all these cuts and the public are suffering.

“Some of the routes have to be subsidised in rural areas because they are loss-making – but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to run a transport service.”

The consultation comes as national charity Campaign for Better Transport warned that bus cuts across the country are hitting “critical levels”.

Lancashire County Council, which needs to make savings of £300m over the next four years, said its plans will help cut spending while keeping up support for services when they are used most.

It also plans to invest £500,000 in dial-a-ride services to cater for the most vulnerable.

The proposed changes, which would come into effect from May 18, would affect 72 subsidised evening and weekend services across Lancashire.

Commercial services that require no council support will not be affected. Coun John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We would never have chosen to be in this financial situation but have to find ways to drastically reduce our budget due to cuts imposed by central government.

“Our first priority is to safeguard the most vulnerable members of our society but to achieve this we have to look at everything we do and propose some difficult solutions.

“I’m fully aware that the withdrawal of any bus service would have an impact upon the people who use it.

“These are proposals at this stage and no decision will be taken without carefully considering the results of this consultation.”

Laurance Hancock, who runs the Boathouse Youth Club on Lytham Road, South Shore, said the changes could have an impact on younger people.

He said: “For the young people we work with, if their parents don’t have cars they rely solely on public transport.”

Tony Ward, chairman of Wyre Senior Forum, said: “It is bound to have an impact on older people.

“There is a growing concern about the number of older people who find themselves isolated.”

Subsidies will continue for daytime services but the council has said each will be considered on a case by case basis once its contract comes up for renewal. The deadline for responses to the consultation is January 10, with a final decision being made at a full council meeting on February 20. To view the plans and take part in the consultation visit www.lancashire.gov.uk/haveyoursay

AFFECTED SERVICES

From Blackpool

2C service to Knott End

42 to Lancaster

68 to Preston

74 to Fleetwood

75 to Preston

80 to Preston

84 to Fleetwood

The 78 service from Wesham to St Annes,

40 from Morecambe to Preston via Garstang,

the 82 from Poulton to Fleetwood,

the 86 from Knott End to Fleetwood

89 from Lancaster to Knott End

 

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