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Row erupts over bus route funding
8:40am Tuesday 9th October 2012 in News
LABOUR has criticised Cheshire East Council’s plans to withdraw funding from school bus routes across the borough.
If given the go ahead, 19 school bus services across Cheshire East will see their subsidies withdrawn, something that Labour says ‘ignores the needs of young people’.
In total, more than 40 bus services supported by the council could see their subsidies withdrawn.
Labour Clr Ken Edwards described the plans as ‘short-sighted’.
He said: “£1 million is being taken of subsidies for public transport. In many cases these subsidies are vital to bus routes that serve our children – bus routes that allow them to get to school safely and at modest cost – bus routes that enable them to use local leisure facilities or take part in a variety of youth activities.
“This cut is short-sighted in that it either isolates children, or forces more cars on to our overcrowded and deteriorating roads.
“These sweeping cuts need to be recognised and reviewed taking the interests of children and young people into account.”
Clr Sam Corcoran, ward member for Sandbach Heath and East, said: “At a time when we should be looking to reduce carbon emissions and reduce traffic congestion this Tory controlled council seems solely focused on cuts no matter what the cost to services and to children.
“These proposals seem designed to cause the maximum harm to schools, pupils and their families.
“I am dismayed about the way Cheshire East Council (CEC) is going about this process. This is not fair, it is not sensible and is causing suffering to children.”
A spokesman for CEC said the decision will save taxpayers approximately £600,000 a year, with more than two million passenger journeys a year still supported.
He said: “It is important to stress that withdrawal of subsidy does not mean the bus services affected will necessarily cease.
“The council is committed to working with bus companies, local schools and residents to mitigate the impact on local communities, and has already started discussions to encourage operators to continue to run the bus services on a commercial basis.
“The Transport review is part of the ongoing review of equitable service delivery.
“We believe that it is good to consult with people locally and our review of commitments and contracts is ongoing.
“Cheshire East has a high level of commitment to public transport.”
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