Call to think again on "devastating" bus cuts in North Yorkshire

Darlington and Stockton Times: Call to think again on "devastating" bus cuts in North Yorkshire Call to think again on "devastating" bus cuts in North Yorkshire

OPPOSITION councillors have called on North Yorkshire County Council to reconsider a “devastating” decision to axe £2 million from bus subsidies which they warn will hit many of the most vulnerable people.

Last week, the council’s executive committee agreed to cut subsidies which are paid to bus operators to run dozens of the less popular routes across the county.

Thousands of people had objected - with 15 petitions including 5,880 signatories from people who rely on public transport in the huge rural county.

The council says reductions in bus subsidies are part of huge savings they must find as a result of government cuts - with £94 million axed so far and a further £77m needed to find.

A spokesman said the bus subsidy cuts are based on the council’s policy “to ensure that as many communities as possible continue to have access to a public or community transport service, and that these services give value for money.”

However, seven councillors, lead by Independent Richmond county councillor Stuart Parsons have signed a letter calling on the Tory-controlled authority to call in the decision and look at it again.

They say no information was made available on the impact of the cuts on the budgets of other departments.

They add: "No information was made available to the executive on the possible financial implications of their decision on the cost of providing healthcare within the county.

"If there have been discussions with our partners then details, and the conclusions reached, of those discussions should have been in the public domain prior to the Executive considering the item.

“Business and environmental services is advocating the cutting of services to the most vulnerable in our communities at the same time that they are maintaining expenditure for the healthy car drivers within the county.

"There is no evidence of consultation having been undertaken with groups representing the elderly, vulnerable or the disabled.”

They say claims that the impact of the cuts have been minimised are wide of the mark, adding: ”In the case of the Richmond Town Service this is blatantly untrue. The proposals exclude any service provision to the geographical extremes of the town and no mitigation measures are proposed. If this is the proven case for Richmond then it will also be the case for other communities.”

United Kingdom Independence Party councillors Sam Cross and David Simister have also signed warning: ”The cuts will leave many living in rural locations totally isolated and will have a detrimental impact on both the elderly and the young."

Liberal councillors John Savage and John Clark, and independent members Helen Grant and Peter Horton, have also signed the petition.

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