Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

CUTS ARE DRIVEN HOME ON BUSES; Services Set to Face the Axe

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

CUTS ARE DRIVEN HOME ON BUSES; Services Set to Face the Axe

Article excerpt

Byline: SARAH DALE sarah.dale@eveninggazette.co.uk

BUS services are to be slashed as part of Stockton Council's cost-cutting plans.

The council has to find PS18m in savings by 2016-17.

At present the council pays subsidies of PS300,000 a year to the five bus companies - Compass Royston, Leven Valley, Arriva, Stagecarriage and Stagecoach - which support 16 routes across the Stockton borough.

The bus services will remain in place until April next year, at which point the council plans to remove its subsidy to support rural, weekend and non-commercial routes.

Councillor Mike Smith, Stockton Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport, said: "We face incredibly challenging times as we work to identify the additional savings the council needs to make and unfortunately it is not realistic to make these further savings without looking at services we provide.

"In 2014 we are proposing that we remove our subsidy to commercial bus companies which they use to support rural, weekend and non-commercial routes.

"We would rather not make these changes and we are aware of the difficulties this may cause which is why the subsidy will remain in place until April 2014 to allow us to work with the voluntary and community sector and town and parish councils to create a more sustainable borough-wide travel club model.

"Over the coming months we will also work with the bus companies concerned to understand what impact removal of the subsidy will mean for these routes."

Meanwhile, the council cuts backlash continues with Duncan Rothwell, UNISON regional organiser, saying: "Stockton Borough Council faces a total cut of PS501 per head when government cuts to welfare payments and direct grants are added together. This will destroy the local economy and force Stockton to cut back on essential services to vulnerable people.

"The inequality and unfairness to which Teessiders are subject is obvious when you look at the Waverley area, in the south-east of England, which faces cuts of only PS187 per head of population. …

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