Partial win in low bus fares battle

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A PARTIAL victory has been claimed in the battle to protect concessionary bus fares on Scarborough’s seafront.

North Yorkshire County Council have proposed to abolish free bus travel for pensioners and the disabled on the 108 and 109 services, in a bid to save £240,000.

The county council claim that only 12 per cent of the passengers that use the buses are locals, and launched a consultation process.

However, at a meeting of North Yorkshire County Council’s Moors and Coast Area Committee, it was agreed that the group will oppose the complete removal of support for the concessionary fares scheme on Scarborough’s seafront bus services.

Instead, they committee have suggested that the lower fares should be retained for North Yorkshire residents only.

Cllr Colin Challen, who attended the meeting and is against cuts to the concessionary fare scheme, said: “This is only a partial victory, because it signals the break-up of the national concessionary fares scheme.

“But it is better than nothing. It is now up to the county council to take this recommendation on board, and not withdraw its support from local people, by which I mean all the people who pay council tax to the county.

“But we also need a statement from the Minister for buses, Norman Baker MP, as to whether he supports the break-up of the national concessionary fares scheme. This decision will not be unique.”

The 108 service travels from the Sea Life Centre to the town centre and the 109 from the North Bay to the Spa.

Council bosses are targeting the services in Scarborough as legislation states “services operated primarily for the purpose of tourism are outside of the spirit of the mandatory national concession and should be excluded”.

At the launch of the consultation period, Cllr Clare Wood, North Yorkshire’s executive member for passenger transport said: “The county council is proud to administer the concessionary fares scheme for the benefit of keeping mobile those who are elderly and disabled.

“However, the Government has left us with a £5 million funding shortfall which we now have to make up.

“The county council is looking carefully to cut costs across the whole range of its services and for this reason it seemed appropriate to look at the eligibility of retaining tourism services within the concessionary fares scheme.”

The deadline for comments on the potential cuts to the services is Tuesday July 26. Comments can be sent by email to enct@northyorks.gov.uk or in writing to Jan Davidson, Transport Concessions Manager (IPT), North Yorkshire County Council, County Hall, Northallerton DL7 8AH.