Concern grows over threats to Fylde bus routes

Waiting game: Bob Mason says routes would have to be reviewed if county council subsidies are slashed
Waiting game: Bob Mason says routes would have to be reviewed if county council subsidies are slashed
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Savage cuts being considered across taxpayer funded bus routes in Lancashire mean eight Blackpool services face an uncertain future.

Transport chiefs in the resort have warned it is impossible to predict how services will be affected until Lancashire County Council finalises its proposals for coping with huge cuts to its funding.

As revealed in yesterday’s Gazette, one option County Hall is looking at is cutting all funding for subsidised bus services – a move that would save almost £9m a year.

Such a move would hit more than 140 routes across the county – including eight that run through Blackpool.

Two of those services – the number 16 and the 2C – are run by Blackpool Transport.

Director of delivery Bob Mason said as no firm proposals have been put forward it is too soon to predict how services could be affected.

He added: “If subsidies are removed, we would have to review our position – we would obviously consult with all our stakeholders.

“We review our services all the time. We’re all under financial pressure but I’m not aware of any definite proposed cuts as yet.”

County Hall currently supports the sections of both routes that extend beyond Blackpool at times when they are not profitable to run.

It also supports five Stagecoach services that cover Blackpool – the 42, 74, 84A, 68 and 61 – as well as the number 76, run by Coastal Coaches.

Blackpool Council said it only spends around £30,000 a year subsiding buses as most routes make a profit.

Meanwhile, bus users and residents in rural Fylde have spoken of their shock at the plans, which will leave huge parts of the Fylde coast without a bus service.

Peter Massey, 66, of Freckleton Street, Kirkham, said: “Rural parts of Fylde are an area which are always going to be in great need of bus services.

“Councils are far too quick to forget how costs of living are already spiralling out of control – putting further pressure on people without cars seems ridiculous.”

Barbara Hall, 68, of Singleton Road, Weeton, said: “If they continue to take away public services from us then we will have nothing left if they are not careful.

“I rely on various buses to get around every day – without them I may as well not bother leaving the house.”

John Buxton, Lodge Lane, Singleton, added: “I do not think they have thought this one through.”

Susan Pendleton, 54, of Church Road, Weeton, added: “My children use the bus for college and I know lots of friends who need them for trips into town for their shopping. It would make life harder for so many people.”

The county council will decide how it plans to tackle a £315m hole in its budget in the new year. Any removal of bus subsidies would take effect from October 2015.

Opponents of the plans have called on residents to write to the council to object.