Tory bus cuts latest.
A report to the Wiltshire Council cabinet spells out the latest plans for cuts to bus services in the county. This follows a 'consultation' on the proposed cuts which got more than 11,000 responses.
The 'Option 24/7' bus franchising scheme was not supported by the council as they say it's too risky and they want others to try it first: "Given the risks involved, Wiltshire Council will not be pursuing the franchising option at this stage, but would be prepared to consider it at a later date when there is sufficient experience of its introduction from other Local Authorities."
The consultation questionnaire was designed to pit different users of bus services against each other - for example the people who supported cuts to rural services were probably not rural bus users!
In fact Wiltshire Council has decided to cut in a different way to the proposals in the consultation, and simply to remove those services which require the highest per passenger subsidy. This is in line with the council's usual tactic of not taking too much notice of its own consultations. As they admit, "It is recognised that (this) approach is not one of the options that was consulted upon".
The cabinet also wants to look at ways of shunting costs onto the NHS, by reducing support for people using the non-emergency service to the RUH. This is on top of the previous axing of the Hopper bus.
WC hopes that volunteers may step in to help with Community Transport (CT) schemes, however, "The view of Community First and the CT providers is that whilst CT can have a really important intervention role to play in mitigating against bus service reductions, there is only so much the CT sector can do to replace local bus services."
The overall support to bus services is to be cut by £500,000 in the next financial year.
There will be specific 'consultations' when the services to be cut are identified.
Cabinet agenda - see item 7