Plea to review free tram axe

Opening of new tramway from Starr Gate in Blackpool to Fleetwood.
Opening of new tramway from Starr Gate in Blackpool to Fleetwood.
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Community leaders have called on Blackpool Council to re-think their decision to scrap free tram travel for pensioners.

Wyre Council believes Wyre’s elderly, vulnerable and disabled residents will be disadvantaged as a result of the decision to deny pensioners free travel through the NOWcard scheme.

The changes mean concessionary travel card holders living in Fylde and Wyre will have to pay full fare on the trams from this month.

Councillors also claim it is “a short sighted decision” that “will adversely affect the economies of not only Cleveleys and Fleetwood but also of Blackpool”.

A Notice of Motion, which has been submitted by Coun Andrea Kay, Coun Patsy Ormrod, Coun Marge Anderton, and Coun Ted Taylor, said: “Wyre Council calls on Blackpool Council to review and reverse its decision to stop Wyre residents from using the NOWcards on the trams.

“This council also calls on Lancashire County Council, as the transport authority in Wyre, to commence urgent negotiations with Blackpool Council to find a way forward as to how an agreement can be reached to fund Wyre residents use of the NOWcards on the trams.”

Barbara Perkes runs a health stall on Fleetwood Market, and says traders have already seen a decline in people visiting.

She said: “It’s absolutely shocking.

“Lots and lots of people have been complaining about saying they are not going to be coming here anymore.

“It’s a big concern because we have had a really bad four years with the trams being off and all the roadworks, and now this.”

Coun John Jones, cabinet member for highways and transport at Blackpool Council, said: “Ending concessionary tram travel for non-Blackpool residents is not something we are happy about having to do.

“In the last three financial years we have had to make savings of more than £50m as a direct result of Government cuts.

“This leaves us in an impossible position where things have got to give.

“I would remind people that concessionary bus travel to Blackpool remains in place and I would urge people to continue to use that service to access Blackpool and all it has to offer.”

County Coun John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Lancashire County Council contributed £36,000 towards funding free travel on Blackpool’s trams for NOWcard holders but the majority of the cost was borne by Blackpool and there’s no way we could afford to make up the difference.

“We will of course continue to fund the mandatory scheme to allow free travel on the buses for NowCard holders, who will be able to use the very regular service between Fleetwood and Blackpool as an alternative to the tram.”