|Original image via Stagecoach (Mash-Up via Internet)|
Lancashire County Council has launched its initial consultation on the withdrawal of service subsidies from local bus services, as cuts in funding from central government continue to bite. We've listed all the local services that will be affected by these plans.
Although the consultation has only just begun, the Council has already formally advised the bus operators that funding will be cut and that the subsidies for Lancashire County Council bus service contracts will cease on 2nd April 2016.
The same services that faced cuts in 2014 are again under threat across the County, with cuts that will see an end to some services between Lancaster, Preston and Blackpool as well as local towns and villages.
The Council's plans to cut services in 2014 met with fierce opposition, with over 1200 people signing a petition opposing cuts to services in the Lune Valley alone, criticism from both local MPs at the time, including current Morecambe MP David Morris, forcing an embarrassing climbdown on the plans for the Labour-run council.
Bus fare prices rose for school children in the aftermath of the cuts plans, and more recently, Lancashire County Council has offered communities the opportunity to run their own bus services through parish, town and borough councils to improve existing services and develop new routes.
Services that are subsidised in our local area and may be cut are:
001 Silverdale Shuttle (Monday to Saturday daytime)
002C Knott End - Stalmine - Hambleton - Poulton - (Blackpool) (Daily daytime and evenings)
005 Carnforth - Morecambe - Heysham - Overton (Monday to Saturday evenings and Sundays)
005B Brookhouse - Morecambe (Monday to Saturday daytime)
005C Carnforth - Morecambe (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday daytime)
007 Lancaster - Vale/Lancaster - Marsh (Monday to Saturday evenings and Sundays)
007S/072 Pendle Witch Hopper (Summer Sunday daytime)
010 Lancaster - Ridge (Monday to Saturday evenings and Sundays)
033 Morecambe - Bare Circular (Monday to Saturday daytime)
040 Morecambe - Lancaster - Garstang - Preston (Daily odd time journeys)
042 Lancaster - Garstang - Poulton - Blackpool (Monday to Saturday evenings)
051 Carnforth - Warton - Silverdale (Daily daytime and evenings)
055 Lancaster - Carnforth (Daily evenings)
055C Carnforth - Lancaster (Monday, Wednesday and Friday daytime)
081A/081B Lancaster - Hornby - Kirkby Lonsdale (Monday to Saturday evenings and Sundays)
081A/081B (Lancaster) - Hornby - Arkholme/Melling - Kirkby Lonsdale (Monday to Saturday daytime)
089/089H Knott End - Pilling - Glasson Dock - Lancaster (Daily daytime and evenings)
Over the next five years to 2020/21 the council faces an unprecedented financial challenge, and needs to make savings of £262m on top of those agreed within previous budget processes. This extremely difficult financial picture is the result of continued cuts in funding by Government, rising costs and rising demand for key services.
Based on current spending and forecast demand for services, the council says it will not have sufficient financial resources to meet its statutory obligations by April 2018, even if they no longer continue to deliver any of the non-statutory services. The council will need to rely heavily on reserves in order to set a balanced budget for 2016/17 and 2017/18.
"With regards to the proposals for withdrawing all subsidies for bus services, unfortunately, many of the proposals will affect a wide range of service areas and impact on frontline services," the Council says. "Where possible, we are continuing to look for more efficient ways of working that save money without affecting our customers and communities.
"We have formally advised the bus operators of this decision and that the subsidies for Lancashire County Council bus service contracts will cease on 2 April 2016.
"Whilst many of these bus service contracts are not commercially viable, bus operators are considering whether they could provide some service level in the area, without any level of subsidy. Where this is not possible bus operators will deregister the service with the Traffic Commissioner from 2 April 2016. We have asked operators if they could confirm their intentions as soon as possible on this matter."
The Council says in its preamble to its consultation (which asks users to indicate which services they use and leave their opinion on the plans) that when information about potential service coverage is known, they will forward details of those services, whole or sections, which the Council are anticipating not to be provided, to other operators to establish if there are alternative commercial opportunities to maintain some level of service in an area.
"Following these discussions with bus operators, we would then be in a position to advise residents/local communities where conventional bus services would no longer operate and what, if any, mitigating action can be taken.
"This consultation is focused on the impacts of this decision and what mitigation may be taken."
• Have Your Say on the Proposed Bus Service Cuts here
Why Not Write To Your Local Councillors or MPs about these proposed cuts?
• Contact Your City Councillor - List By Ward Here
• Contact Your County Councillor - Listed Alphabetically Here
• Contact Cat Smith, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood
• Contact David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale