Lancashire’s rural bus services could avoid the chop

SLOW LANE: Rural bus services could remain on the road after County Hall decides against cutting all subsidies
SLOW LANE: Rural bus services could remain on the road after County Hall decides against cutting all subsidies
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Rural buses could escape the axe in Lancashire after councillors agreed not to end subsidies for all loss-making services.

Scores of routes were in danger of the chop as County Hall struggles to find £216m of savings to meet Government targets over the next three years.

But in a surprise announcement this week, the county council’s cabinet decided, after taking note of public feedback, not to include a blanket withdrawal of subsidies or support for transport for pupils travelling to faith schools on its list of austerity cuts to be included in the budget.

“As a cabinet we are not supporting the option of removing bus subsidies or financial support for children travelling to denominational schools, having listened to feedback from the consultation we’ve carried out over recent months,” explained LCC’s deputy leader Coun David Borrow.

“We are now carrying out a further consultation before the full council meeting in February takes the final decision on the budget.”

While the news will bring hope to many isolated communities who rely on their local buses, it may not guarantee all services are safe. Cabinet members have ruled out cutting 100 per cent of subsidies, but the final budget could still leave some loss-making routes at risk.

As last year County Hall is asking for a rise of 1.99 per cent in council tax to help ease the pain of the economies being demanded by Westminster. The authority will also put that proposal out to consultation over the next few weeks.

“We can make some savings by introducing more intelligent and efficient ways of working,” added Coun Borrow. “However it is also clear that we will have to deliver some services in a different way and stop providing some services altogether.

“We will do all we can to ensure we protect the most vulnerable in the county and we are also committed to spending our resources fairly, according to need.”