DCSIMG

‘Let us pay reduced fares’

Pensioners in Fleetwood with petition against plans to scrap free travel on trams. From left: Petition organiser Angela Patchett, Coun Ted Taylor, Cheryle Glover and Marillyn Prince.

Pensioners in Fleetwood with petition against plans to scrap free travel on trams. From left: Petition organiser Angela Patchett, Coun Ted Taylor, Cheryle Glover and Marillyn Prince.

Pensioners who will be hit in the pocket when free tram travel is scrapped next month say they don’t mind paying – but cannot afford the full fare.

From April 1, concessionary travel card holders living outside Blackpool will have to pay full fare on the trams.

Blackpool Council has said it can no longer afford to subsidise travel for all NowCard holders and claimed the move will save £700,000.

But senior citizens in Wyre say they now face paying more than they can afford or have to use an inadequate bus service.

Arthur Butler, 79, of Cleveleys, said: “For them to take the free pass off, just like that, is disgraceful.

“If a couple wanted to go to Blackpool, it will now cost them £9.20, there and back. That’s a lot of money for pensioners.”

Sheila Wright, 65, of Northfleet Avenue, Fleetwood, has arthritis and a lung condition, and needs a wheeled walker to get around.

She said: “I have to travel to Cleveleys once a week to pay the rent. I can’t go on a bus because getting on it is hard, and it hurts me when it jolts over the bumps. I will just have to pay the tram fare.

“This is discriminating against people from Fleetwood and Cleveleys.”

NowCards will continue to be accepted on buses, with the fares subsidised by the government, but councils have no legal obligation to offer cut-rate tram travel.

Lancashire County Council has said it will not put up the money for its residents to keep using the trams without paying.

The decision has sparked outrage – with some calling for a boycott of Blackpool – and one Fleetwood resident has set up a petition calling on council bosses to rethink.

Angela Patchett, 73, of Pharos Grove, said: “Access is not as good on the buses for the elderly, especially those who are in wheelchairs or struggle up steps. People I have spoken to are really angry, there is stronger feeling over this than anything I’ve known before.

“The point is that we wouldn’t mind paying a nominal fee of 50p or £1 but paying the full fare of £2.30 there and back would soon eat into people’s pensions.”

Coun John Jones, cabinet member for transport, said: “Ending concessionary tram travel for non-Blackpool residents is not something we are happy about having to do.

“However, I hope they will understand the difficult position we are in because of the Government’s cuts.”

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