Villages face loss of bus service
WADEBRIDGE is set to be hit by cuts to bus services when one of its connections with Bodmin and Camelford is axed.
Connections with Truro and Bodmin Parkway remain intact, but Western Greyhound will be axing its 561 service between Wadebridge bus station and Morrison's supermarket in Bodmin.
Villages will take the brunt of the cuts, as communities such as St Tudy, St Mabyn and St Breward will be without a regular service to take residents to the three towns.
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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Stephen Knightley, Cornwall councillor for Wadebridge East, said that as a newly elected member he had not been party to the budget discussions but the enormous cuts to all councils coming from central Government made it difficult to finance all services.
"No one in their right mind wants to cut services, but you can only spend what is coming in," said Mr Knightley.
Rob Rotchell, Cornwall councillor for Camelford, said he understood that a final decision on £500,000-worth of cuts by the authority is being made on Friday and he is hopeful "there might be room for manoeuvre".
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.
Mr Howarth added: "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 at least until a bus service retendering in April 2014, and after analysis of the public consultation process, which is currently under way," he said.
Brian Lamerton, chairman of St Tudy parish council, said axing the bus service would 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, and my sister uses the bus to get to work in Bodmin," he said.
"We don't have a community bus in St Tudy, and I think the cutting of the 561 service will cause hardship to quite a few people."
A Cornwall Council spokesman said it has already been forced to make savings of £170m 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," she said.