Cornwall reveals true effects of subsidy cuts

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Cornwall Council has admitted at least one in ten bus services in the county will be withdrawn as a result of cuts to funding the concessionary fares scheme.

The council is in negotiations with bus operators over plans to slash the concessionary fare reimbursement rate as the authority looks to save £2.6m from the concessionary fares budget.

At the council’s budget briefings last week, independent councillor Bob Egerton called for more details on likely effect of the cuts on bus services, after the authority’s director of economy, environment and planning, Tom Flanagan, insisted they would create a “sustainable” bus network.

“He (Mr Flanagan) said we will find out the implications of the budget in January when the bus companies come back, by which time we will probably find the bus routes have been decimated,” said Egerton.

“We’re throwing the dice up in the air and seeing what falls,” he said.

“There’s no information coming back about what the implications will be on the bus network. Are we going to have a network roughly the same as today, or will it be virtually wiped out in some areas?”

Mr Flanagan replied: “We hope we’ll have 90%, or thereabouts, still in place.”

Councillor Egerton said that rather than cutting the concessionary fares scheme, the council should look at other ways of meeting the £2.6m shortfall and protect bus services from being cut. He called on the council to increase charges on its park and ride scheme in Truro and use the additional revenue to fund concessionary fares.

Cllr Egerton also suggested a possible £1m grant from the government for the reintroduction of weekly waste collection should also be used to fund concessionary bus fares.

The overview and scrutiny committee decided his suggestions should be investigated by officers to see whether they were feasible.