Bus service cuts are 'second major blow' for Newquay
THE boss of a Newquay bus firm has described "forced" cuts to Cornwall's bus services as a "second major blow" following a devastating fire at the company's depot in May.
One of two major service providers in the county and based in Summercourt, Western Greyhound has announced which services will be affected from November 3.
The changes will affect the Newquay area, including the 547 service between Newquay and St Ives, which will be withdrawn during the winter months.
Western Greyhound managing director Mark Howarth said the changes came after "extensive negotiations" between the company and Cornwall Council officers, following a £500,000 reduction in the funding available to support bus services in the current financial year.
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Mr Howarth said the cuts were a "second major blow" to Western Greyhound this year, following a fire which destroyed 35 buses at its Summercourt depot. "I do understand that Cornwall is under budgetary pressure and needs to save money on its budget.
"I really hope that Cornwall Council can find some money for partial replacements in the form of community buses or other alternatives to replace the bus routes being withdrawn, and that money can be found to protect the remaining network from 2014 onwards, as this is vital for the rural community.
"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."
A formal consultation has begun for affected staff and job losses are yet to be finalised, he added.
Meanwhile, the other major bus service provider in Cornwall, First, said a number of changes were being made to its Falmouth-Truro-Newquay service as of September 29.
First said changes were being made to better match resources against the level of demand for services and – where routes had been poorly used – some commercial services were being withdrawn.
Newquay mayor Sandy Carter said the cuts were "disappointing", and that it could impact on tourism. "Being a person who has to travel on a bus all the time, I am not very happy about bus cuts.
"It is the elderly and disabled who will suffer the most. "It is not going to do the shops in Newquay any good."
A Cornwall Council spokesperson said it had already been forced to make savings of £170m over the past four years due to government cuts in its budget and was 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," she said.
For more detail on the cuts and service changes, see page 14.