New petition for free travel

'The loss of free tram travel is a huge blow for pensioners'
'The loss of free tram travel is a huge blow for pensioners'
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A fresh petition has been set up in an effort to get Wyre’s pensioners back on the trams after free transport for the elderly was scrapped.

A Labour Parliamentary hopeful has called on Tory-run Wyre Council to pay its way and help fund a solution after Blackpool withdrew its funding for people living outside the resort.

Sam Rushworth

Sam Rushworth

Businesses in Fleetwood have complained the move has hurt trade because fewer people now get on the trams.

Lancashire County Council, which is responsible for transport in Wyre, has said it is prepared to pay part of the estimated £180,000 cost of allowing NowCard holders to ride the trams free of charge.

But Wyre Council said funding transport goes beyond its role and is not in the budget, meaning other services would have to be cut or council tax increased to pay for it.

Labour candidate for Blackpool North and Cleveleys Sam Rushworth said he already has hundreds of signatures on his petition calling on Wyre Council to “support Lancashire County Council with its offer to help fund the scheme”.

Mr Rushworth added: “There is a cost of living crisis, with food and energy prices going up and up. The loss of free tram travel is a huge blow for pensioners in Cleveleys. They deserve better than this.

“Labour has come up with a plan to save free tram travel, but it needs Tory support to make it work.

“I hope this petition will encourage them to put aside political differences and work with Labour to do what is right.”

The issue sparked a heated Wyre Council debate last month, when Tory leader Peter Gibson said it was a “disgrace” Labour councillors did not support a motion calling on Lancashire County Council and Blackpool Council to find a way to reinstate free travel for Wyre pensioners.

Coun Gibson said: “We have a balanced budget in Wyre, spending more means taxing more or cutting something.

“There will be a solution to the tram problem, but it is not to tax more.

“It is for all parties to get round a table, have a sensible discussion, think outside the box, make agreements and then put those endeavours in to practice. I made that call and Labour refused to meet.

“We are calling on Labour to stop the silly political games and trying to put it on Wyre council tax payers.”