Council U-turn on tram fare hike for OAPs

Official opening of the Norbreck North tram stop
Official opening of the Norbreck North tram stop
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Blackpool pensioners will be able to continue travelling for free on the town’s trams after plans to introduce a charge were dropped.

The council had proposed the introduction of a £1 ticket price as finance chiefs battled to make ends meet and cut spending by £18.7m in the coming year.

But the move has now been dropped.

It means over 60s and disabled people living in Blackpool who hold concessionary travel cards will still be able to travel for free on the town’s trams, as well as the buses.

Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “With £18.7m to be saved this year, we had to look at every possible income stream to bring more money in to protect vital services.

“However, having closely looked at the introduction of a charge for concessionary travel, we felt it was not the right approach to take at this time.

“Wyre pensioners can travel for free on the trams and adding a cost solely for Blackpool pensioners would have been unfair towards our local people.

“Blackpool locals are already paying enough this year to foot the funding gap from the Government’s grant reduction and, where possible, we will try and protect them from further costs.”

The decision was welcomed by the Conservative opposition group on the council.

A spokesman for the Conservatives said: “We have been arguing the case for keeping the free concessionary fare since this Labour council announced they would introduce a £1 charge.

“Dozens of older residents have contacted us complaining about this harsh decision.

“We introduced the free fare scheme when we were in power as we wanted more of our senior citizens to enjoy the ability to travel to and from Blackpool and beyond.

“So we are delighted the council has seen sense and listened to both the people and our lobbying.”

There was an outcry when Wyre pensioners were told they could not travel on the trams for free until that decision was overturned 12 months ago.

Following a long campaign, Lancashire County Council found the money to enable Wyre residents to use their NowCards on the tramway.

Around 3,000 people signed a petition supporting the move.

Blackpool Council is due to agree its budget, including a 4.99 per cent increase in council tax, when it meets tomorrow.

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