Bus firm to withdraw from Penzance amid cutbacks
EIGHT bus routes in West Cornwall are to be axed as Cornwall Council looks to save around £500,000 in its bus budget for the current financial 2013/2014 year.
The routes are all operated by Western Greyhound and follow extensive talks between the company and council officers over the past couple of months.
The company's entire Penzance and Hayle operation will be withdrawn from November 3.
Routes affected are – Route 501 (Penzance to Land's End); 504 (Penzance to St Just); 507 (St Just to Gurnard's Head); 508 (Penzance to St Ives); 509 (St Just to Penzance via Tregeseal and Sancreed); 512 (Penzance circular); 513 (Leedstown to Penzance); 515 (Gwithian to Penzance via Hayle and St Erth).
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Tim Wallace, owner of The Penzance Bookshop, who has taken a lifelong interest in bus services, said that West Cornwall was being unfairly treated with the cuts.
"The proposed withdrawal of the Western Greyhound services means that Penwith is bearing the brunt of Cornwall Council cutbacks," he said.
"The scale of the cutbacks being made in this area just do not seem to be happening anywhere else in the county."
Sue James, the Cornwall councillor for the St Just ward, worst affected by the changes, said: "It's difficult with the cuts – there are things that are going to go.
"The buses are just a part of that. The withdrawal of buses are going to really affect a group of people.
"My hope is that, from the discussions going on, the needs of people in our rural areas are met.
"But it might not be in the way that it has been in the past."
Mark Howarth, Western Greyhound managing director said: "It is always sad when cuts are forced on us particularly when we have invested so much and my team has worked so hard to deliver a high quality standard of service. I hope the council can find some money for partial replacements in the form of community buses or other alternatives to replace the bus routes being withdrawn."
A spokesman said the council had been forced to save £170 million over the past four years and is now expected to make further savings of £196 million by 2019.
"While we are doing our best to protect essential frontline services, it is impossible to make this level of savings without affecting some services," said a spokesman.