Vital bus services face budget chop

Subsidised buses could badly hit in budget

Subsidised buses could badly hit in budget

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Rural communities across Lancashire are bracing themselves for the loss of crucial bus services over the next few weeks as drastic cost-cutting measures are set in place by County Hall.

Parish councils and other groups have been told they have just a month to plead for clemency for their public transport network before county councillors make key decisions on what is in and what is out of the hard-pressed authority’s budget for 2015/16.

Bus routes which are heavily subsidised by LCC are expected to be hard-hit as the council looks to save a colossal £176m over the next three years to satisfy tough government austerity demands. And with bus subsidies costing the authority more than £7m a year, it is almost inevitable some services will be told they are at the end of the road, leaving many remote communities mourning the loss of a vital transport lifeline. Formal consultation meeting are scheduled to take place before the matter goes before the LCC cabinet on February 5. A week later the full council will decide exactly where the axe falls.

The cutbacks follow a county-wide consultation process which asked bus users their opinions on how the use of services should be graded in the contest for cash help.

Only 138 responses were received, with more than two-thirds agreeing with a new scoring system judging employment as more important than health, medical, shopping, education and leisure.