Lib Dems criticise revised bus cuts plan and claim it puts more daytime services at risk
PUBLISHED: 15:09 10 November 2014 | UPDATED: 15:09 10 November 2014
Liberal Democrats have criticised plans for a fresh consultation on bus services claiming it could lead to more severe cutbacks.
Herts County Council’s highways panel decided to propose a new public consultation following a backlash of opposition.
If given the go ahead at Cabinet, the new proposals will suggest to withdraw funding from subsidised services after 7.30pm from Monday to Saturday, instead of 6.30pm as previously put forward, to stop funding to subsidised services that operate on Sundays except routes that directly service hospitals up to 7.30pm and to limit the amount of subsidy per passenger journey across all subsidised services.
The move to put a cap on the amount of subsidy per passenger has been criticised by the Lib Dems as, although it would save an extra £1.5 million, it could affect some daytime services.
Buses that could be in the firing line include the 388 and 315 services, which take villagers to and from Welwyn.
Small passenger numbers mean each journey costs the council £5.55 per passenger for the 388 bus and £4.61 per passenger for the 315 service.
Lib Dem county councillor Malcolm Cowan said: “Liberal Democrats will be leading the fight against this. We hope the public will support us again, and make it clear we expect a bus service worthy of the name.”
Just 30 out of 4,548 respondents to the initial consultation, which cost £16,318, backed the initially proposed cutbacks.
Councillor Terry Douris, who oversees highways, said: “The proposals for a further consultation will enable us to make informed decisions about hot to make the savings needs in the future.
“We will have to make some difficult decisions in the months and years ahead, but we have to prioritise how we spend our money to deliver the services that are most needed and we have to do this within our existing budgets.”
If the council’s Cabinet agrees that a second consultation should go ahead it is expected to be launched in January.