Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Tories cut buses again!

Well, they did it. The Conservatives have withdrawn subsidy from a number of important evening bus services right across Winchester, including the No 5 which serves Badger Farm and Oliver's Battery. Two weekday evening services and everything after 6 pm on a Sunday will be lost.

My Lib Dem colleague Jackie Porter, county councillor for Itchen Valley attended and spoke at the meeting. This is her report:

"Which ones are we killing off?" asked Mel Kendal, Hampshire's Tory cabinet member with responsibility for bus services. Eight Liberal Democrat County councillors and no Conservatives had come to defend their bus services at the decision day for this latest round of summer bus cuts.

Cllr Kendal praised Lib Dem run Eastleigh council for their approach to saving services. "They do something – the others just whinge," he said.

These cuts are being made to compensate for the huge overspend in Adult Social Care last year. Who is he kidding? The recovery is underway and the Council could have absorbed the £ ½ million. This new round of cuts on weekday and Sunday services included off peak services which are often used by more elderly people travelling to town independently.

"The Government criticised the County Local Transport Plan for poor bus patronage. The percentage of journeys made by bus is just too low. What response will the Government give to this round of cuts then with the only services which might be saved in Tory areas?" said Charlotte Bailey, county councillor for Downlands - users of the 5 and 46 services.

"Local Authorities say they were only invited to subsidise services a week ago. It was too short notice to come up with a rescue package – and they shouldn’t have to. It’s a County Council responsibility," said Phryn Dickens, Westgate Councillor.

Pamela Peskett, Councillor for Eastgate Division said she was very disappointed that the subsidy on the 6A had been cut. "It is a vital service for residents who can’t walk far from their own homes. We asked for a more time to save the service and find alternatives but this service is a victim of Tory cuts, as are the 1 and the 5."

Martin Tod, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Winchester added:
"Here we go again. These latest cuts will hurt the elderly and young people. At a time when the County Council should be making it easier for people to use public transport to reduce emissions and help tackle climate change, all we get is cuts. Once again, the Conservatives’ claims to care about the environment and climate change are just so much hot air."

Councillor Kendal rounded off by saying "These aren’t cuts. All I am doing is withdrawing subsidies!" Bitter experience tells us that this is the same thing.

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