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Malton MP Suggests Donations To Avoid £2 Million North Yorkshire Bus Cuts

Bus Stop 281113

9:45am 24th January 2014

Thirsk and Malton MP Anne McIntosh has suggested the law is changed to allow pensioners on free bus passes to donate to keep at risk bus services in North Yorkshire running.

The county council's Executive approved £2 million of cuts to the money which is used to keep unprofitable services in the countryside running. They will begin to take effect from April and the county council has already said that it will lobby the government for a change in the law to allow money used for free bus passes to be used to keep services running.

Anne McIntosh raised the issue in Parliament, asking for pensioners to be allowed to donate to keep the at risk services.The Thirsk and Malton MP asked Leader of the House Andrew Lansley:

“The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee recently reported on rural communities and highlighted the importance of bus travel in those areas. May we have a debate at the earliest opportunity on any legislative changes that might be required to allow bus travellers—especially concessionary fare travellers—in rural areas to contribute to the cost of their bus service rather than losing it completely following the withdrawal of the bus subsidy?”

Andrew Lansley said there had recently been a debate on rural matters but he would write to the Department of Transport to try to arrange a meeting for Anne McIntosh. The MP said in a statement afterwards:

“I am calling for a debate on the loss of the bus subsidy affecting rural bus services and seeking a change in the law which currently prevents concessionary fare passengers on buses from contributing to their travel which would be permitted for rail passengers.”

“Without such a change we risk losing vital bus services across North Yorkshire which provide a lifeline for the elderly and many vulnerable people in rural areas dependent on rural bus services.”

Speaking earlier this week about why the decision to cut the bus subsidy had been taken, the leader of North Yorkshire Council, John Weighell said:

“These cuts have been imposed on North Yorkshire County Council – not just on the bus subsidies, but across the whole range of services which the council provides,”

“We have been obliged to take decisions such as this to avoid setting a deficit budget, but at the same time we are determined to do everything possible to minimise the impact on individuals.”

County Councillor Carl Les, the Deputy Leader, added:

“We are all very conscious of the potential that these reductions have for people in very rural areas, in terms of isolation and loneliness.  These issues are very much in our minds, and we will do all we can to mitigate against them.”

The council added that the reductions are based on a policy that aims to “ensure that as many communities as possible continue to have access to a public or community transport service, and that these services give value for money.”

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