Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Victory on the buses

Some great news today as Cornwall Council reversed their proposal to end the subsidy given to evening and weekend buses. The effect of this proposal would have been to cut off towns and villages and hit workers, students and those wanting an evening out. One of the bus routes planned for the axe was the 576 service linking Launceston to Plymouth and Bude.

The u-turn came during a scrutiny meeting discussing environment and transport aspects of the proposed budget. Portfolio holder Graeme Hicks interrupted proceedings to hand out an alternative budget cutting proposal which restored the subsidy to bus routes and instead proposed to make up most of the shortfall by bringing Cornwall into line with most of the rest of the UK in not allowing those with free bus passes to use them before 9.30am.

I spoke at the meeting to give credit to Graeme for seeing the strength of our argument and backing down. His alternative proposal is not perfect and there will be people who will be disadvantaged as a result, but making people pay for buses is better than not having buses at all. We will be looking at some of the individual cases to see whether there needs to be a tweak to the new proposal, but it is a far better starting point.

Of course there is a downside to this change of heart. I recorded an interview with BBC Spotlight on the issue which is now unlikely to be shown ;-)

Tomorrow the key battle of the whole budget comes to County Hall as the communities scrutiny committee looks at proposals to cut the number of libraries and one stop shops and, of course, the withdrawal of subsidy to Camelford Leisure Centre which is likely to mean its closure.

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