Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Lib Dems reveal Tory plans to phase bus cuts around election

A new timetable of bus subsidy cuts have been worked out by the Tories to avoid potentially damaging their county council election campaign.

Instead of cutting the buses year on year over a four year period, they have revealed that the next cuts will take place this autumn followed by a two year break to avoid the sensitive election period.

Once the 2013 election is over, the Tories will cut the rest of the bus subsidies under their plan to save £2.7 million.

The change of plan has been revealed by Cambridge Liberal Democrats and comes just weeks after the Tories’ new leader, Nick Clarke took charge.

The original plan was to cut the bus subsidies in four tranches, in 2011-12 (£654k), 2012-13 (£510k), 2013-14 (£900k), and 2014-15 (£900k).  The Conservatives have so far cut only part of the first tranche, which mostly consisted of evening and weekend services, rural services in West Hunts, and the city shuttle bus. 

They now plan to combine the remainder of the first tranche with the whole second tranche most likely taking place this October.

There will no bus cuts for the following year and a half until the Cambridgeshire County Council elections have taken place after which the remaining 60 per cent (£1,816,000) will get the chop.

Lib Dem Transport Spokesman, Kilian Bourke said: "The cuts we have seen so far are nothing compared to what is coming. This October we will see roughly twice as much subsidy disappear, and that will still only be 40 per cent of the cuts to bus services. There will then be a year and a half gap until the county council elections are over before the remaining 60 per cent is cut."

"Nick Clarke needs to stick to his manifesto promise and stop these cuts, instead of timing them so as to save his Conservative colleagues' skins."

The national Save Our Buses campaign has singled out Cambridgeshire's bus cuts as the worst in the country and may even be subject to a judicial review.