Consultation underway on public transport service cuts across East Devon
PUBLISHED: 14:28 26 January 2015 | UPDATED: 14:28 26 January 2015
East Devon residents are being asked for their views about a proposed £1.7 million cut to public transport over the next two years.
Devon County Council (DCC) launched a consultation today, after councillors agreed to reduce spending on services that require council funding in order to meet central Government cuts.
Ottery St Mary residents stand to lose out under the plans, which would see the 381 town service withdrawn and other transport links reduced.
DCC highways boss Councillor Stuart Hughes said: “We have pledged that no communities which are currently served by a bus will be entirely cut off, and these proposals intend to protect weekly links.
“Even when these savings are introduced, we will still be spending over £4 million on public transport.”
He added: “On top of that, we will be paying the bus companies in Devon a further £2.5 million over and above what the Government gives us to fund pensioners’ free bus passes, which costs the county more than £9 million a year to run.”
The county council needs to save £110 million by 2017- £50 million in the coming financial year - due to its reduced settlement from central Government.
This is despite having already saved £100 million over the past four years.
Cllr Hughes said: “We have made significant efficiencies in transport in previous years to provide the required savings, which has meant that bus services have not been reduced for the past four years, but unfortunately service reductions are no longer avoidable.
“We are facing a 14 per cent reduction in spending in the next financial year, despite the secretary of state claiming we’re receiving a 0.5 per cent increase.”
DCC has set up a three-year fund of £100,000 per year to help community transport providers broaden their services to include more general access for local communities.
The authority hopes this will mitigate some of the impact of proposed cuts to around 100 public transport services across the county.
Cllr Hughes said the starting point for the services proposed for withdrawal or reduction has been those services with low usage or the high cost of subsidy.
He said: “The county council will be providing additional funding for community transport to enable them to widen their service and help reduce the impact of these cuts, although we recognise the added benefit this will provide will be localised and limited.”
He said: “We are asking for comments on our proposals for thinning services, which will reduce choice in terms of travel time and destination.”
Fare Car F5, which currently serves the Honiton and Ottery St Mary area from Monday to Saturday, would be reduced to Tuesday and Fridays, which are its most well used days.
Some school pupils not entitled to school transport will also be affected by the proposals.
The consultation closes on Monday, April 20. Full details of all of the proposals are available online at: www.toughchoices.co.uk