Bus route fund­ing

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Shop News - By Aidan Bar­low

There are fears that the el­derly, the vul­ner­a­ble and chil­dren could be left stranded in their vil­lages af­ter coun­cil chiefs an­nounced a plan to axe bus sub­si­dies.

Kent County Coun­cil (KCC) has an­nounced that as many as 78 routes where ser­vices which are sub­sidised by tax­pay­ers could be scrapped if the cuts are agreed.

The Tory-run au­thor­ity wants to claw back £2 mil­lion next year and £2m the year af­ter by cut­ting the So­cially Nec­es­sary Bus Ser­vices (SNBS).

But crit­ics say it is a cut to a front­line ser­vice which al­lows peo­ple without ac­cess to a car to travel to work, school, hos­pi­tal and into town.

In Ash­ford and Ten­ter­den there could be as many as 16 ser­vices hit, in­clud­ing school buses to the Wye Free School and to Home­wood, and ser­vices such as the 2A be­tween the two towns, and the 123 which con­nects vil­lages such as Lit­tle Chart and Hoth­field to Ash­ford.

Hoth­field Par­ish Coun­cil chair­man David Parker said: “We have a num­ber of bus pas­sen­gers in our vil­lage who I see at the bus stop ev­ery morn­ing, and they rely on the ser­vice to get to Ash­ford and else­where. Any sug­ges­tion of risk to bus ser­vices would be of great con­cern.”

Ten­ter­den and its sur­round­ing vil­lages could see ser­vices af­fected, and town coun­cil­lor Ken Mul­hol­land said the news was con­cern­ing.

He said: “The cur­rent ser­vices are not tremen­dous, if there are fur­ther cuts or in­creases in fares that would be very neg­a­tive.

“Some peo­ple don’t have a car and would be stranded.”

Ash­ford Cllr Ge­orge Koowa­ree (Lib Dem) crit­i­cised the plan.

He said: “We have to have the right bal­ance be­tween the pri­vate car and pub­lic trans­port be­cause of the el­derly and oth­ers who de­pend on it.

“They say there won’t be cuts to front­line ser­vices, but the front­line is af­fected.

“KCC says it is a car­ing coun­cil, but peo­ple who are re­ally in need don’t get cared for.”

KCC will pro­pose which serv-

What do you think? Write to Ken­tish Ex­press, Unit 4, Park Mall Shop­ping Cen­tre Ash­ford, TN24 8RY or email ken­tish­ex­press@ thek­m­group.co.uk

Ten­ter­den town coun­cil­lor Ken Mul­hol­land, left, said the news was con­cern­ing, while Ash­ford coun­cil­lor Ge­orge Koowa­ree, right, was also crit­i­cal of the plan

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