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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

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Last-ditch bid to save at-risk Cumbrian bus services

A last-ditch attempt is going to be mounted to save a string of bus services threatened with the axe because of council cuts.

James Airey photo
James Airey

Cumbria County Council is poised to stop its support for 70 routes as part of efforts to save £24m from its budget in the next financial year.

Thousands of people have protested against the cuts, which many living in isolated rural areas have argued will remove a vital connection to outside communities and services.

The measures could be voted through at a full meeting of the council next Thursday after being approved last week by the authority’s ruling Labour-Liberal Democrat cabinet. But the opposition Conservative group is poised to table an alternative which its leader believes could save services.

James Airey is remaining tight-lipped about the exact details of his plan.

But he said: “We wouldn’t cut the rural bus subsidies.

“We will be proposing not bringing the cut in. We are working on the costing of this. These proposals would have a huge impact on rural areas,” he added.

But Keith Little, the cabinet member for transport, said: “I’m sure all county councillors would love to be in a position to say ‘we won’t make the cuts and we’re saving your services’ – but we just can’t do that.”

Cuts to council budgets – with £89m demanded from the county authority in the next three years – was highlighted as one of readers’ major fears in The Cumberland News’ Our Cumbria survey, results of which were revealed last week.

The county council had proposed to cut the subsidies immediately but at last week’s meeting announced £1.4m to buy time for people who use some of the threatened routes, giving them a year to find alternative funding and for some of the cuts to be made gradually.

Another cut put forward by the county council is to stop subsidising bus travel for new students aged over 16-years-old from September.

This has been criticised by Carlisle College principal Moira Tattersall.

She said: “It is a concern for us working to ensure our young people engage and achieve outcomes and are ready for the world.”

Under threat – Cumbria’s subsidised bus routes

  • 6 Whitehaven-Seascale-Muncaster
  • 8 Whitehaven town service (evenings)
  • 22 Lowca-Whitehaven-town estates-Cleator Moor-Frizington (evenings and Sundays)
  • 26 Whitehaven-St Bees-Egremont-Whitehaven
  • 46/47/50 Workington town services (evenings and Sundays)
  • 47 Newton Arlosh-Wigton
  • 69 Edentown-Carlisle city centre-Holme Head
  • 71 Carlisle-Anthorn-Silloth
  • 73 Carlisle-Caldbeck-Keswick
  • 75 Cotehill-Carlisle-Durdar/Dalston (evenings and Sundays)
  • 93 Carlisle-Bowness-on-Solway (evening journeys)
  • 94/7 Hallbankgate/Castle Carrock-Brampton-Carlisle
  • 95 Brampton-Heads Nook-Great Corby-Carlisle
  • 101 Cockermouth town service
  • 101 Carlisle-Rockcliffe
  • 105 Greystoke-Penrith
  • 106 Penrith-Shap-Kendal
  • 111 Penrith-Burnbanks
  • 185 Carlisle-Brampton-Haltwhistle
  • 218 Frizington-Workington
  • 279 Carlisle-Longtown (Sundays)
  • 300 Carlisle-Maryport-Workington-Whitehaven (11pm departure from Carlisle)
  • 554 Carlisle-Wigton Keswick (winter)
  • 562 Crosby Ravensworth-Penrith
  • 563 Penrith-Appleby-Kirkby Stephen
  • 600 Carlisle-Cockermouth (evenings)
  • 604 Ireby-Wigton
  • 625 Appleby-Dufton-Penrith
  • 680 Nenthead-Alston-Carlisle
  • 685 Carlisle-Brampton (evenings and Sundays)
  • 830 Egremont town service
  • 835 St Bees-Egremont
  • 836 Braystones-Egremont
  • 889 Alston-Hexham
  • AD122 Hadrian’s Wall Bus
  • X5 Workington-Cockermouth-Keswick-Penrith (evenings)
  • X6 Whitehaven-Millom (Sundays)

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