Cuts to bus services ‘will isolate people’

Dr Alan Wood is unhappy at county council plans to cut village bus services in Halton.
Dr Alan Wood is unhappy at county council plans to cut village bus services in Halton.

Proposed cuts to bus services in the Lancaster district will “isolate many people and damage the local economy” according to the city’s MP.

Lancaster MP Eric Ollerenshaw said he was taking the fight to Parliament after Lancashire County Council announced it was planning to stop subsidising many of the district’s evening and Sunday bus services.

Retired Halton resident Dr Alan Wood said he was “perturbed” when he found out about the plans.

“I don’t drive and I go into town several times a week and use the bus a lot,” the 70-year-old said.

“It’s another example of government cutting back services, particularly in the rural area.”

Dr Wood, a former senior lecturer at Lancaster University, added: “People going into Lancaster in the evening to work or for entertainment will be affected.”

“I know people who finish work late in Lancaster and if they miss the daytime bus they will be stuck.

“There’s a lot of pressure on people to use public transport and then they cut the public transport service.”

Stagecoach, which runs most of the services, said it was now looking at the long term commercial viability of the chosen routes, with final decisions being made in line with the county council’s May target for the removal of £4m of subsidies over two years.

Mr Ollerenshaw said he had taken up the matter with the Secretary of State for Transport.

He said: “The proposed cuts to routes will have an adverse affect on our rural and town communities alike; isolating many people who have no other means of transport or support as well as damaging the local economy.”

A joint statement from Labour county councillors Darren Clifford, Janice Hanson, Chris Henig, Richard Newman-Thompson and Niki Penney said: “No elected member wants to withdraw bus subsidies but we are facing a massive budget shortfall.

“The most vulnerable – who are unable to stand at bus stops – will be protected.”

A decision will be made at a full council meeting on February 20.