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Devastating effect on OAPs

(January 12, 2016)

A Warminster councillor is calling on local people not to miss the bus as another service faces the axe at the hands of Wiltshire Council.

bus routes map 001a"The unitary authority have launched yet another consultation which is usually a signal that they are preparing to cut spending not improve services," said Cllr. Paul Macdonald.

"I am urging everyone not to miss the bus on the consultation now under way.

"As I dig deeper into the proposals it looks like the buses to Sutton Veny, the Deverills and Frome are all soon going to be another thing consigned to the history books by county councillors.

"We could be facing Beeching style cuts to the buses if my worst fears are confirmed"

Wiltshire Council have started a bus service consultation aimed at reducing £5million subsidies that keep buses running that are financially viable.

This comes on top of their threat to the RUH Hopper bus and their cuts to grants to the Warminster Link Scheme of volunteer drivers.

"I have looked up the figures for usage and the Warminster town and rural services buses carried 100,000 passengers last year," said Cllr. Paul Macdonald.

"Worryingly,  half them were OAPs using their bus passes. This is going to have a devastating effect on them.

"The Warminster villages Shoppers buses had 7,740 passengers of which 99 out of a hundred were senior citizens!"

Local Authority Spending

sub buses table 001"We know how important bus services are for rural communities," said Wiltshire Councillor Philip Whitehead who is the cabinet member responsible for the move.

"However, due to the pressures on local authority spending we (are) under severe pressure to reduce the amount of budget that we spend on subsidising public transport at the level we currently do."

The consultation started yesterday and runs until 4th April and the cuts would start in 2017.

"I have taken part in the consultation but warning bells were ringing because there was no detail of which routes would be affected," said Cllr. Paul Macdonald.

"I would urge everyone not only to fill out the questionnaire but write to their unitary councillors immediately to find out exactly what impact this will locally.

"It is particularly annoying because Warminster suffers at the hand of the car parking charges and each time we challenge them they say that without those charges being ring-fenced to subsidise the rural buses we would lose them.

"We are being let down badly again by county hall if this goes ahead.

"Why don't they ask the question would you be prepared to pay a little bit more in council tax to safeguard these buses, the Hopper bus and the Link scheme instead of continually not increasing it."

* It also looks like Mere where the MP Andrew Murrison lives will lose all its subsidised bus services to Salisbury and routes west and south.

* Map source Option Routes in red under threat.

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