People power forces bus U-turn

Fylde coast residents opposed cuts to subsidised bus routes.
Fylde coast residents opposed cuts to subsidised bus routes.

Crippling cuts that would have left parts of the Fylde coast without a bus service in the evenings will not go ahead, it will be announced today.

Public outcry over planned cuts to subsidised bus services across Lancashire has forced County Hall bosses to perform a dramatic U-turn.

Coun John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, was today due to announce the cost-saving measure has been scrapped.

Campaigners hailed a victory for “people power”after the council got more than 1,300 responses to its consultation on the plans to save £7.8m over the next two years.

Coun Fillis was expected to tell the cabinet: “Together we’ve had frank and honest discussions about the challenges we face and how best we can respond as a community to the significant financial pressures being placed on us by the government.

“As a result of this process I’m pleased to say the removal of subsidies to all evening and weekend services, on a blanket basis, will not be going ahead. While reviewing every bus route on a case-by-case basis over the next few years, it is my ambition to work with operators to push for a better deal for Lancashire.”

Instead, services will be reviewed individually as contracts expire over the coming years and the council will push operators to cut costs by using more profitable routes to subsidise loss-making services.

Coun David Borrow, deputy leader of the council, said: “We cannot continue to give millions of pounds to subsidise the profits of companies running these routes.

“It is our intention to work with operators to develop a sustainable transport network that is fair to the council tax payer local residents and the bus operators.”

Coun Vivien Taylor, whose petition to save Over Wyre services that attracted 1,176 signatures, said: “I am grateful people power, and sense, has prevailed. In some areas there are no alternative services and the cuts would have been catastrophic.”

Knott End driving instructor Derek Ronson said: “This is fantastic news. I’m glad the council has finally listened.”

The cuts, announced in December, would have hit a dozen routes across the Fylde coast and taken more than 250 journeys off the roads each week.

Follow us on twitter @The_Gazette and like our page on facebook to keep up with all the latest news.