Friday, 27 November 2020

Bus services face axe despite budget changes

SUBSIDISED bus services will be cut despite a plea by a Henley campaigner to save them

SUBSIDISED bus services will be cut despite a plea by a Henley campaigner to save them.

On Tuesday, Oxfordshire County Council approved cuts of £3.7million to its subsidised transport services budget.

It means that all 118 subsidised routes in the county will lose their funding and bus companies will have to decide whether they can afford to continue running the services.

Several services in Henley run by Thames Travel and Whites Coaches, including the buses to Wallingford and Woodcote and internal town services, will lose their £118,000 funding in October.

Donna Crook, appealed to councillors not to approve the cuts, saying that it would affect her 88-year-old father Peter Roberts, who suffers from dementia.

Before the meeting, she joined an anti-cuts demonstration with David Cameron’s aunt Clare Currie.

Ms Crook began campaigning in November because she was concerned that Mr Roberts, of Trust Corner, would be left housebound without a bus service or she would have to give up work to help him.

More than 2,000 people signed her petition calling for the Henley bus services to be saved. Ms Crook told councillors: “I want the council to keep the subsidies because of my dad, who is 88 and suffers from mild dementia. He lives quite happily on his own at the other end of town from myself. I am his unpaid carer.

“The one thing that keeps him going is his daily trip into town on the bus. He then does a little bit of shopping and will meet his friends in the pub, or he will sit there and watch the world go by. He will then go home for lunch.”

She said if the bus service was scrapped she would have quit her jobs as a cleaner and running a craft business in order to help him. Ms Crook said: “I’d have to walk the 30 minutes to his home and go in a taxi with him as he is unable to go in one on his own and he wouldn’t know how much to pay the driver or where to go.

“I’d then let him do his shopping and take him back home in the taxi and I’d have to walk the 30 minutes back to my house.

“If I didn’t do this it would have a detrimental effect on his dementia due to his lack of routine.”

She claimed many elderly people like her father would end up being housebound.

Mrs Crook said: “Does the council not realise the real effect this will have on the mental wellbeing on pensioners? By cutting their lifeline — and the worst killer of all in old people is loneliness — some may go days without seeing anyone.”

Henley’s county councilllor David Nimmo Smith said the council would hold discussions with bus companies about keeping transport running in rural towns and villages, particularly services such as rush-hour buses that could be “commercialised”.

He said the council’s own bus fleet had vehicles that were under-used at certain times and these could be used to offset the loss of subsidised services.

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