A new group to consider the impact of the proposal to withdraw the current level of funding for subsidised bus services will meet for the first time tomorrow.
The Cabinet Working Group on Bus Services, which includes county councillors from all parties, will consider different transport options following the proposal to cut the subsidies which cost the county council around £7m. each year.
It will make recommendations to the cabinet member for highways and transport on how to spend the £2m. that will be available to support transport for communities across the county if the proposal is approved by full council at its budget meeting later this month.
The aim will be to ensure people who are isolated, cannot drive or do not have easy access to transport can use services such as health and education and live independently.
County Coun. Paul Hayhurst, chairman of the Cabinet Working Group for bus services, said: “Our job will be to look at the £2m. funding we now have, to identify who needs transport and find out how best to deliver this with the money available.
“We face a tough financial challenge and this won’t be an easy task, but the group is made up of county councillors from all parties and I’m sure they will come forward with some good ideas about how to make best use of the £2m. funding.
“Once we’ve finalised our ideas, we’ll make our recommendation to the cabinet member for highways and transport.”
County Coun. John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “The cuts to county council funding combined with the rising demand for county council services mean we have to save £200m. by 2020 in addition to the savings we’ve already identified.
“We will be spending all of our usable reserves just to balance the budget over the next two years.
“Because of this, we have to take some very tough decisions, such as withdrawing the current level of funding we provide for subsidised bus services.
“However, we recognise that many people need community transport for shopping, socialising and so they can continue to live independently.
“We’ve put this working group together to look at the different possibilities, come up with ideas and make recommendations the council can take forward.”