Council pledges £60,000 to save bus service

Bus services under threat

Bus services under threat

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An under-threat village bus service looks to have been saved from the axe after parish councillors stepped in to secure cash.

The only bus between New Longton and Longton - the 12A - was to be withdrawn in April due to the expected withdrawl of Lancashire County Council (LCC) subsidies.

But now, following much public concern at a recent meeting, members of Longton Parish Council agreed to set aside £60,000 from the council’s budget to maintain a service.

County Coun Graham Gooch, who is also chairman of the Parish Council, said: “We are greatly concerned about the loss of the bus service and determined to do something about it.

“As the budget had to be set that evening and would bind us for the next financial year, we decided to make provision in the budget to raise money to enable us to effectively maintain a bus service should the LCC scrap the service.

“We have set aside a sum of £60,000 to use to maintain a service. We hope that Hutton Parish Council and Penwortham Town council, through which the route runs will wish to contribute.”

He added: “The loss of the bus service between New Longton and Longton would have severe effects on the people of New Longton, especially the older people, who rely on the bus to take them to Longton for the health centre, dentist, children centre library, pubs, restaurants and, most frequently, to Booths supermarket.

“The bus also connects with the bus services to the rest of the Western Parishes, Southport and Ormskirk.

“The service is used by pupils going to school, students to college and young people generally for social activities.

“In the other direction it connects New Longton and Whitestake to Preston for people going to work and college.

“Without the bus employment and education opportunities would be lost and older people of New Longton would be left in social isolation.

“The cutting off of this service would run contrary to all the County Council’s stated aims to enable people to Start Well, Live Well, Age Well. All the stated aims will be in jeopardy if the transport infrastructure is destroyed.”

Coun Gooch is meeitng with other parish councils in the Western Parishes and Penwortham Town Council next week to discuss bus services.

Most bus services in Lancashire are run on a commercial basis, attracting enough passengers to allow operators to make a profit.

However, a number of quieter routes, most often in rural areas, don’t make enough from passenger fares to cover their costs, and are only able to serve some communities with the help of subsidies provided by the county council. Recent figures show this costs around £7.5 million a year.

Last month the County Council’s budget proposals gave details of how the authority planned to save an extra £65million over the next two years, and cutting all bus subsidies was one key idea.

The additional savings mean that between 2011 and 2020 the council will have to have delivered savings of £685m.