Saturday, 21 October 2017

Councillors to vote on bus subsidy cuts

CUTS to subsidised bus services in Henley and the rest of Oxfordshire are due to be agreed on Tuesday.

CUTS to subsidised bus services in Henley and the rest of Oxfordshire are due to be agreed on Tuesday.

Oxfordshire County Council?s cabinet will decide the amount that must be saved from its subsidised transport services budget ? either £2.3million or £3.7million.

If councillors choose the latter, all the routes currently subsidised would lose that support, leaving bus companies to decide whether to continue with them.

Currently the county council pays operators £3.7million to wholly or partly subsidise buses on more than 100 routes, or nine per cent of the network. The routes in the Henley Standard circulation area that could be affected are the 151, 152 and 154 Henley services; 139 Wallingford to Henley; 145 Woodcote to Henley; 125 Watlington to Wallingford; 134 Goring to Wallingford; M1 Watlington to Reading and M2 Nettlebed to Reading.

Councillor David Nimmo Smith, a Henley town and county councillor, said: ?Almost 50 per cent of our budget goes on care services for adults and children. We need to make savings in other areas to fund those vital services.

Transport savings is one such area under consideration.

?We have already made big savings by running and funding supported transport services more efficiently and have plans to do much more. To make the remaining savings we have consulted on options to either reduce or end the subsidies we pay to bus companies while discussing with them the prospects of them continuing to run services. More than 90 per cent of bus services in Oxfordshire would be unaffected by these proposals.

?We?re in the process of saving £290million from 2010 to 2018 and may have to save as much as £50million on top of this, which is why we have an option to cease all our bus subsidies.?

The cuts would begin to take effect from April. A public consultation exercise in the summer had received more than 2,600 responses.

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