Campaigners say hard times ahead for bus users in Stevenage and North Herts as county approves nearly £1.5 million cuts to services
- Credit: Archant
A Stevenage woman campaigning against cuts to bus services is warning that users face hard times ahead after Herts County Council approved £1.5 million cuts to services today.
In a “fiery” meeting, the county council’s Customer Service, Performance and Libraries Cabinet Panel approved a proposal to cut £1.471m from the amount currently paid to bus companies in subsidies to run unprofitable routes.
The decision has angered thousands of people who signed petitions opposing the move, including Alina Congreve who lives in Chells and uses the SB1 bus to get to work every day.
“We were very disappointed that despite thousands of people objecting it had no impact on the outcome of the decision,” she said.
“We know that bus users now face some tough days ahead but for us we are not stopping here and we are determined to push on.”
The cuts will withdraw funding from subsidised services running after 7.30pm and on Sundays, except for routes going directly to hospitals which would run until 7.30pm.
The changes will start in September and affect several routes in Stevenage and North Herts.
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The council held two consultations on the proposals, with the latest one closing on Sunday, before making its decision. The panel looked at the 1,582 questionnaires it received from the public and the 11 petitions, signed by more than 9,000 people, opposing the move.
The cuts will affect two per cent of journeys and are part of £119.8m in savings the council must make by 2018.
Alina thinks that despite the decision being approved the public’s anger to the cuts will increase when they start to be implemented in September.
“A lot of people do not know that it will affect them. When they see that they are affected in towns like Stevenage there will be a reaction against that.
“When this happens and people can see the damage that has been done I hope the decision will be looked at again.”
Terry Douris is responsible for highways at the council and said: “We appreciate that if agreed, this will impact on a number of passenger journeys made each year in Hertfordshire.
“We will continue to work hard with bus operators, community transport groups and the voluntary sector to consider the available alternative transport options for older and vulnerable bus users, but the fact is that the county council is under financial pressure that we can no longer use taxpayers’ money to subsidise bus services at the current level.
“Herts County Council has to make significant financial savings and we have to balance the needs of bus users alongside all the other demand for the services we provide.”
This decision will go to a full cabinet meeting on Monday where councillors are expected to approve it.