Village protest after funding cut hits a vital bus service
Last updated at 20:09, Thursday, 05 July 2012
Villagers in Great Clifton are campaigning after a lifeline bus service was reduced because of a funding shortage.
The 1A service between the village and Workington used to run throughout the morning, picking up from six points in the village.
Villagers say it provided an invaluable service for old people who could not walk to the main street bus stops.
But operator B+E Travel, which is based in the village, has been forced to cut the number of trips from 12 a day to three, with the last bus now returning from Workington at 9.18am.
This is because of a cut in the money it gets from Cumbria County Council to subsidise bus-pass users’ journeys.
Pensioners Jean Dixon and Elsie Burridge have gathered a 200-name petition to get the service reinstated.
They have presented the petition to county councillor Marjorie Rae, who has passed it on to council officers.
Brian Dobinson, of Bow Flatts, who owns B+E Travel, said he had been forced to reduce the service after the council decided in April that it would only pay 58 per cent of the cost of bus-pass users’ fares.
It had previously paid 65 per cent but made the cut after a change in government funding.
Mr Dobinson, 53, said he had already run the route at a loss for 12 months before taking the difficult decision to scrap services which ran after 9.30am when people can use passes.
Many passengers, including 80-year-old Mrs Dixon and Mrs Burridge, 71, both of Clifton Lodge, said they would be willing to pay the standard fare after 9.30am, despite being entitled to free travel.
But the council said the national concessionary travel scheme means that bus operators cannot impose charges on bus-pass holders.
Mrs Burridge said: “The majority of us who use the bus are 65 upwards, and we rely on it because it brings us to our doors.
“There’s no way we can walk up and down the hills with two or three bags of shopping.
“We have got to go to Workington for shopping as we have got no village shop.”
Mrs Dixon said: “It is a community bus. We meet people we wouldn’t otherwise meet.”
Mr Dobinson said he did not blame the council, which had been hit by a cut in its travel funding from the Government. He said he was willing to reinstate the full service if a solution could be found that would not see him lose £28 a day, as at the moment.
He added: “I feel rotten because I live in the village. I couldn’t continue subsidising it for the amount we were going to lose.”
A county council spokesman said the authority would work with Coun Rae and the community to look at other options where possible, such as the rural wheels service, which must be pre-booked.
Mrs Burridge has also contacted Workington MP Sir Tony Cunningham, who has written to the council on her behalf asking for more information.
First published at 19:20, Thursday, 05 July 2012
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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Well the people of Broughton voted in Conservative Eddie Martin, leader of the county council, what did they expect? You get what you vote for
@Janet - "We were promised by our governments that rural areas would be looked after"Ah, but what you didn't realise is, that in the case of this government, they meant 'looked after' in a kind of Al Pacino way (apologies to father Ted)
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