Fear for bus routes as budget slashed by 40pc
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