Bus cuts: villagers would be worst hit
BUS SERVICES in North Cornwall are set to be among the worst hit when Cornwall Council cuts come into force in November.
Two services will disappear in five weeks' time – and rural villages will take the brunt of the impact.
Western Greyhound is to axe its 561 service between Camelford, Wade-bridge and Bodmin, and the 530 service between Bude, Kilkhampton and Morwenstowe will also end when the cuts are implemented on November 3. Villages such as St Tudy, St Mabyn and St Breward will be without a regular service to the three towns.
Rob Rotchell, the Cornwall councillor for Camelford, said he understood a final decision of £500,000 of cuts by the authority is being made on Friday and he is hopeful "there might be room for manoeuvre".
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Mr Rotchell says that if there is no relief then he and others will have to look at alternatives, such as community buses, for the areas affected.
Paula Dolphin, who is both Mayor of Bude and Stratton and the Cornwall councillor for the area, said the cuts will mean that Kilkhampton and Morwenstow will be more isolated. "The elderly population that still live in their own home in the rural areas will no longer be able to do so, putting more pressure on the council's Adult Social Care budget," she said.
"They will be saving a little bit in one budget heading and spending much more on another," said Mrs Dolphin.
Mark Howarth, Western Greyhound's managing director, said: "I do understand that Cornwall is under budgetary pressure and needs to save money on its budget. I have lobbied government ministers about the reduced allocation of funds to local authorities, but ministers have stated that localism means that each local authority can determine its own priorities for spending.
"I was under the impression that frontline delivery cuts were not going to be made by the newly elected Cornwall Council until at least a bus service retendering in April 2014 and after analysis of the public consultation process, which is under way." St Breward parish council chairman Denis Lusby said the withdrawal of the 561 service will mean the only buses going through the village will be those for shoppers provided by Trago Mills and Asda. "Cornwall Council approached the people who run our community bus to see if they wanted to take over the service, but that proved impossible given the bureaucracy involved and the pressure it would put on our volunteer drivers."
Brian Lamerton, chairman of St Tudy parish council, said the axing of the bus service will cause problems for a considerable number of residents, including members of his own family.
"My daughter is partially sighted and relies on the bus to travel to Bodmin most days. I think the cutting of the 561 service will cause hardship to quite a few people," he said.
A Cornwall Council spokesperson said it has already been forced to make savings of £170 million over the past four years due to government cuts in its budget and is now facing having to make further savings of £196m by 2019. "We are continuing to discuss options with all the bus operators and will be inviting them to join with us in raising this issue with the Government."