CHIEFS at Worcestershire County Council have refuted claims from the Labour Party’s West Worcestershire parliamentary candidate cuts to public transport are still on the agenda at the authority.
With the 2015 General Election just a few months away, Daniel Walton said cuts to bus travel in the county had only been ‘delayed’ and were not going to go away.
Last year thousands of people across the county responded to a county council consultation regarding the future of subsidised bus routes which led to more than 70 services across the county saved but funding cuts of £1.6million.
In Pershore more than a dozen routes were retained and services were also kept in Malvern following the feedback from concerned residents and campaign groups.
Mr Walton said the threat of more cuts in public transport was still there and aimed to re-focus his attention on the subject.
“The decision on withdrawing bus services was delayed, but only delayed, and bus cuts are on the agenda for the county – they have not gone away.” he said.
“Cutting our bus services damages our local economy, prospects for jobs, access to health services, opportunities in education and increases rural isolation.
“Rather than cutting public transport across West Worcestershire we must support it and support those that rely on it. With the building of more houses in and around Pershore this has never been as
But Coun John Smith, responsible for highways at county council, refuted the claim categorically.
“There are no plans at all to revisit the issue of subsidised bus travel, which was the subject of a widespread review and largest ever public consultation last year.” he said.
“The financial challenge we face due to funding reductions, which requires us to save around £25million a year until 2017/18, has been well documented.
“More than 8,500 responses were received during the consultation in 2013/14. We listened to these views and conducted a thorough service-by-service analysis taking into account a number of factors, including access to education, health services and essential shopping visits.
“By doing this and working with commercial operators, which run the majority of routes across Worcestershire, we are able to continue to provide a high proportion of public transport links through
subsidies by investing £1.4million, whilst at the same saving £1.6million for the taxpayer.
“In addition, we continue to work with community transport operators across the county, which are playing an important and increasing role when it comes to providing services in their areas.”