Campaigners stop bus cuts as council does a U-turn

Lancaster Bus Station .
Lancaster Bus Station .

A public outcry has forced Lancashire County Council to do a U-turn on cutting subsidies for buses in the Lancaster district.

Controversial plans to save £3.8m by withdrawing support from all loss-making evening and weekend services in Lancashire are to be abandoned.

The announcement was good news for campaigners in the Lune Valley where a “Save Our Buses” protest resulted in a 1,300-name petition being presented to County Coun John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, at a public meeting in Caton.

Campaigner Ursula Gallie said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to hear it. Coun Fillis said he would listen and it looks like he has. It’s a victory of a kind for us, although we are still a bit nervous about what will happen next.”

MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood Eric Ollerenshaw said he welcomed the news, but said the county council “needs to go further” in committing to keep all rural bus services. The authority now intends to review 72 routes on their individual merits, while at the same time ordering operators to cough up more to keep “lifeline” services running.

He said: “Together we’ve had frank and honest discussions about the challenges we face and how best we can respond as a community to the significant financial pressures being placed on us by the Government.

“As a result I’m pleased to say that the removal of subsidies to all evening and weekend services, on a blanket basis, will not be going ahead.

“Whilst reviewing every bus route on a case-by-case basis over the next few years it is my ambition to work with operators to push for a better deal for Lancashire.

“I will be asking that where companies make significant profits from popular routes in the county they work to help offset the costs of those which are less profitable or make losses.”