Cuts could leave vul­ner­a­ble ‘stranded’

Con­sul­ta­tion next step be­fore de­ci­sion is made

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - £4 Million Savings Plan To Axe Services -

KCC cabi­net mem­ber for high­ways, Cllr Matthew Bal­four, said a re­port will go to the en­vi­ron­ment of­fice and cabi­net be­fore go­ing to con­sul­ta­tion.

He said: “The con­tracts un­der dis­cus­sion could be sup­port for the whole ser­vice, some evening journeys, week­end journeys, di­ver­sions off of the route, or spe­cific journeys.

“At present it is pro­posed to re­duce the bud­get from the So­cially Nec­es­sary Bus Ser­vices by £4 mil­lion over the next two years, as bud­gets are ex­tremely tight.

“If agreed by mem­bers, a de­ci­sion will then be made as to whether to pro­ceed with the pro­pos­als and put them out to con­sul­ta­tion in Jan­uary.

“But we recog­nise the im­por­tance of th­ese bus con­tracts af­fected by the pro­pos­als, which ac­count for 1.6 mil­lion journeys.

“The pro­pos­als have iden­ti­fied KCC-sup­ported con­tracts which, sub­ject to con­sul­ta­tion, could be with­drawn.

“It does not nec­es­sar­ily mean the whole ser­vice will go.

“Sup­port­ing the So­cially Nec­es­sary Bus Ser­vices is dis­cre­tionary by the county coun­cil. We don’t have a statu­tory re­quire­ment to pro­vide funds for th­ese buses to run.

“We would en­cour­age any­one af­fected by th­ese pro­pos­als to take part in the con­sul­ta­tion to make sure their views are known be­fore a fi­nal de­ci­sion is made next year.”

Crit­ics say this is a cut to a front­line ser­vice that al­lows peo­ple without ac­cess to a car to travel to work, school and into town

KCC’s Matthew Bal­four

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