02 August 2011

Grim outlook for Cornish Buses

Cornwall backs down, but cuts still on

Cornwall county council is proposing a phased reduction in concessionary
fare reimbursement starting in October, when the level will drop from
73.5 to 60 per cent. It will then be further reduced to 50 per cent from
April next year. It had last month announced a cut from 73.5 to 44.3 per
cent to be backdated to 1 April 2011 - a decision it quickly reversed
following the threat of legal action from outraged operators. The new
figures were produced last week after a hastily-arranged meeting between
the council and the operators.

Mark Howarth, managing director of leading Cornish operator Western
Greyhound, warns that this may not be enough to prevent widespread
service reductions. "Cornwall is blaming central government and
government is saying local authorities need to decide on their
priorities. Who is taking responsibility for this fiasco as everyone is
passing the buck? I am engaging with our local MPs to see [transport
minister] Norman Baker; he needs to know the effects of this policy and
how many people will suffer as a result.

"In July 1971, there were funding cuts and the old Western National
pulled out of vast swathes of Cornwall as a result. Now, exactly 40
years on, it appears the same thing may happen again if sense doesn't
prevail. I am pleased that Cornwall has rescinded the original proposal
and has come to the table, but even the revised proposals will mean
widespread withdrawal of services."

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