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Dozens of bus routes face axe in subsidy cuts

By West Briton  |  Posted: July 28, 2011

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DOZENS of bus routes could be axed after Cornwall Council told operators it is slashing subsidies paid to keep buses running – and even backdating the cuts.

Western Greyhound said reducing bus subsidies would be "catastrophic" for Cornwall and it had launched an immediate review of which routes could be affected.

The council pays bus operators so they can offer free bus passes to pensioners and disabled passengers.

Funding for the concessionary fares scheme is provided by the Government, but the council claimed this has been cut and so it has had to rethink its own payments.

However, after the issue was highlighted last week, Cabinet member for transport, Graeme Hicks, said that he had stopped work on altering the payments so that a full review could be carried out.

Western Greyhound managing director Mark Howarth had warned that the cuts could mean routes being axed. He said: "There has been no economic impact assessment carried out to consider the impact this will have.

"It will be catastrophic for Cornwall. Some areas will find that their bus services will go completely. Some of the smaller operators might even go out of business.

"There has been no thought at all about what the impact of this will be.

"People who rely on the bus to get to work, to go to school or college, for shopping or hospital appointments – all those essential journeys will be lost."

The letter, seen by the Cornish Guardian, blamed the changes on public spending cuts. Signed by David Edwards, group leader for passenger transport at County Hall, it ends: "The council regrets it has to make changes to the reimbursement model but faced with a much reduced budget must respond to the current national financial circumstances." Cornwall Council Lib Dem deputy group leader Alex Folkes said: "You can't run a business where one of your main sources of income says we are going to cut your rate by 40 per cent. It is stupid and shortsighted.

"We all understand that Cornwall Council need to make cuts and savings but to do so in this way is gobsmacking.

"They don't even have the courtesy to sit down and talk with their providers to work out a way of making those savings without affecting the people of Cornwall.

"There are some very rural communities and poorer people in those communities who will suffer because of this. They will lose their jobs and lose contact with their families and friends."

North Cornwall MP Dan Rogerson said: "It is absolutely disgraceful that Cornwall Council have made this threat after setting their budget at the beginning of the financial year. This will have a seriously detrimental effect."

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  • Charlespk  |  July 25 2011, 12:42PM

    @youngcornwall Monday, July 25 2011, 12:04PM Get over your continual divisive politics youngcornwall. . It's all those 4x4s that have been keeping the country moving these last icy winters.

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  • youngcornwall  |  July 25 2011, 12:04PM

    expatP Not forgetting public transport is traditionally a working persons form of transport brought in by the labour government for those who have retired or nearing retirement. There are those who would dearly love to rob the elderly of their bus passes and stop buses holding their 4x4s up in narrow lanes. Regarding your comment "free or reduced fares to people only in the county in which they live". I don't know too much about the The Netherlands but in this country discrimination is frowned on.

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  • expatP  |  July 25 2011, 11:16AM

    Commenting on "Young Cornwall" I think we should remember that Cornwall is mainly rural and not many people live within walking distance to the shops even when they´re not living in the villages. Cycling is a dangerous option if you ask me, you have hardly any cycle paths (we are fortunate here in The Netherlands, plus the fact that it´s flat!) and it´s certainly not an option for the elderly. Wouldn´t it be fairer if councils gave free or reduced fares to people only in the county in which they live. By what I hear from family, buses are now packed in the summer months with non-paying elderly passengers. Of course they are welcome to the free travel, but if there has to be a choice? Maybe another option, as someone else suggested, would be to run mini-buses.

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  • Doitdreckley  |  July 23 2011, 12:05PM

    If these cuts go through then the Council will not be able to justify the huge house building that it is likely to propose in its local plan.

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  • Terrywright1  |  July 22 2011, 11:07PM

    This all points to what I have written in another article on this same topic, that the Government is intent on killing off the older generation as they become pensioners and therefore a burden on their carefree spending sprees. Keep these people out of the way in their isolated homes and villages and forget about them as they just fade away, job done. Who's next for the gas chambers?

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  • LonyTilly  |  July 21 2011, 11:00PM

    Now josdave behave !! Your neighbour may be saving his legs for chasing his missus/girlfriend/boyfriend up and down the stairs all night. ???????

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  • youngcornwall  |  July 21 2011, 8:57PM

    @josdave Your talking about toilets down the garden, bath tubs in front the fire, with half the houses still using paraffin for lighting, getting the ac***ulator charged up so you could listen to the radio. OK if you liked that sort of thing, problem then, we didn't know any different. The best thing I recall was there wasn't any TV.

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  • oggiebob  |  July 21 2011, 8:43PM

    I am a pensioner with no car. Cut bus services, I may as well be dead. I live in a village with shops that only cater for visitors. Tell me you are joking. How many true Cornish work on the so called Council that make these decisions? Very few I suspect. Having served all my working life in defence of this country, is this how I am to be treated? The word '******s' seems too polite.

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  • josdave  |  July 21 2011, 7:54PM

    Might do a lot of people a lot of good if they got on pushbikes for a while and walked to get the paper instead of just getting in the car like my next doo neighbour. I don't know what he's got legs for he rarely uses them. As for not wanting to go back to those days I regard the 50s as the best period of my life and I know a lot of people who agree with that. Quality of life is not all about money young cornwall.

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  • Mattzilla  |  July 21 2011, 4:34PM

    Right, so anyone in retirement or poverty who lives in an isolated village can just move then? The whole issue of subsidised public transport needs looking at. I've seen double deckers pottering around the sticks with no passengers. Get rid of these polluting monsters. Parish councils could hire/buy minibuses to fill the gaps in service for much less of the cost. I know that they've tried this on the Roseland so it would be interesting to see if it does work.

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