No go to parish buses as scheme is turned down

John Fishwicks and Sons new 804 bus service to Parklands High School
John Fishwicks and Sons new 804 bus service to Parklands High School
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A parish-based bus scheme in Leyland has been rejected.

Lancashire County Council is investigating an idea for the purchase or lease of minibuses or similar vehicles operated by parish councils to provide passenger transport services to their local communities.

The county council has sought the views of parish council.

But Farington Parish Council has declined to take part in the consultation which closed at the end of last year.

At its last meeting, a number of concerns were raised by the parish council about the scheme.

It was felt it would be an onerous task for it to take over the running of a bus service and that it would need a lot of thought and consideration. The parish council did not feel it could commit to the scheme at present and that it should be the responsibility of the county council and not parish council’s to provide subsidised bus services.

However, it swill be kept informed of progress with the scheme should we wish to participate at a later date.

Meanwhile, parish councillors heard that concerns had been raised by local residents about the reduction or lack of bus services in the area, especially since historic bus company Fishwicks went of business in November.

Parish council clerk Sue Whittam reported that a local resident had contacted her about the lack of a bus from Farington to Penwortham Girls Grammar.

Councillor Karen Walton said the scrutiny committee at South Ribble Borough Council, of which she and councillor Paul Wharton were members, was going to look into buses and public transport issues.

Lancashire County Council’s cabinet has approved plans to save £65m over the next two years, as part of action to tackle a £262m funding gap faced by April 2020.

Approved proposals include removing funding for all subsidised bus services to save £7.5m per year.

County councillor Jennifer Mein, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “The decisions we have taken today are heartbreaking but reflect the unprecedented financial situation we face.

“I didn’t come into politics to cut services but years of relentless central government cuts combined with a rising demand for our services mean we have to find huge savings.

“Even with these measures we still face a funding gap of nearly £200m by 2020 so unless central government has a change of heart there will be harder decisions to take in future. We are using the bulk of our reserves just to balance the budget over the next two years. We will do all that we can to protect the vulnerable but these are very difficult times.”