Fear for bus routes as bud­get slashed by 40pc

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE -

BUS routes could be slashed af­ter the coun­cil de­cided to cut its bud­get by nearly half.

There are fears for the fu­ture of some buses in Mac­cles­field af­ter Cheshire East agreed to cut the money it spends on ser­vices in the bor­ough by around 40 per cent.

Com­mu­nity lead­ers are con­cerned that the re­duc­tion, which was signed off as part of the coun­cil’s lat­est bud­get, will mean that Mac­cles­field routes will have to go.

Coun Nick Man­nion, who rep­re­sents the Mac­cles­field West and Ivy ward, is out­raged by the move and fears that evening and Sun­day ser­vices will go as well as routes to ru­ral ar­eas.

Nick said: “Th­ese cuts will af­fect some of the most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in our com­mu­nity.

“This is the start of a pro- cess that could see the end of the re­main­ing evening and Sun­day bus ser­vices in Mac­cles­field.

“If they’re cut­ting such a huge amount of money from the trans­port bud­get for the bor­ough, this will in­evitably mean losses for Mac­cles­field. How will shift work­ers and those em­ployed in the evening econ­omy get home from work when bus ser­vices are cut? We should be en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple onto pub­lic trans­port, not forc­ing them into cars. But what choice will peo­ple have? We want to gen­er­ate a night-time econ­omy in Mac­cles­field and give peo­ple the op­tion of pub­lic trans­port other than hav­ing to use pri­vate taxis.

“It’s iso­lat­ing peo­ple who rely on pub­lic trans­port.”

Coun Janet Jack­son also ex­pressed con­cerns over the re­duc­tion of ru­ral ser­vices. She said: “The bus com­pa­nies are a com­mer­cial busi­ness so it’s in their in­ter­est to run the buses where the most peo­ple use them. It has al­ways been the coun­cil’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure that the ru­ral routes – the ones that don’t make the money – are still run.”

The coun­cil is due to carry out a re­view of bus ser­vices which it says will mean ‘com­bin­ing routes, chang­ing the hours of oper­a­tion and stop­ping ser­vices al­to­gether’. It will run a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion.

Coun Sam Corcoran said: “A ma­jor flaw is that only ex­ist­ing users of bus ser­vices will be con­sulted. We want to know why nonusers were not be­ing con­sulted and asked why they don’t use the bus and what would en­cour­age them to do so.”

A spokesman for Ar­riva, which runs bus ser­vices from Mac­cles­field, said they need to ‘di­gest’ the pro­pos­als to as­sess the im­pact on cus­tomers.

He said: “We don’t tun a huge num­ber of tenders in this area but we need to di­gest th­ese pro­pos­als and un­der­stand how this may af­fect the routes we do run and the im­pact on our cus­tomers. We have no im­me­di­ate plans to change our com­mer­cial ser­vices but may re­view th­ese as part of this process to en­sure we can de­liver bus ser­vices to the op­ti­mum num­ber of cus­tomers in the area.”

A Cheshire East Coun­cil spokesman said they are car­ry­ing out a de­tailed re­view of all sup­ported ser­vices.

He said: “As stated in the coun­cil’s bud­get pro­pos­als, sig­nif­i­cant sav­ings have to be made and the aim is to pro­vide the best value for Cheshire East res­i­dents within the re­duced bud­get. A 10-week con­sul­ta­tion will take place from May and all res­i­dents will be en­cour­aged to re­spond to help shape the coun­cil’s in­vest­ment in lo­cal bus ser­vices.

“As a re­sult of that con­sul­ta­tion, the coun­cil will be in a bet­ter po­si­tion to iden­tify where economies can be made.”

This year’s bud­get for buses was £5.078m, of which £850,000 was to fund routes af­ter the col­lapse of GHA coaches, which sud­denly ceased trad­ing in July last year. The bud­get will re­main the same from 2017/18 but from 2018/19 £1.576m will be cut.

Fears have been raised over the fu­ture of some ru­ral bus ser­vices. It is not known which ser­vices or routes are af­fected

Coun Nick Man­nion

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.