'We'll be trapped in our villages,' residents decry plan to stop subsidised bus services at nights and Sundays

The Westmorland Gazette: Ursula Gallie has set up an online petition Ursula Gallie has set up an online petition

RURAL residents have hit out at Lancashire County Council’s proposals to stop all subsidised bus services on evenings and Sundays.

Campaigners say that the proposed cuts will leave people without cars ‘trapped in their own villages’.

Under proposals designed to save the council £3.8m over two years, subsidies would be withdrawn from 72 services from May 18.

Affected services include: Service 5 Overton to Carnforth, Service 51 Lancaster to Silverdale, Service 55 Lancaster to Carnforth, Services 81A and B Lancaster to Kirkby Lonsdale.

Ursula Gallie, who lives in Caton, has set up a petition at www.change.org, which now has more than 1,000 signatures.

Mrs Gallie said: “My husband uses this bus for work, we often use it for leisure and there are lots of people who rely on it and don’t have an alternative.

“Without it they’ll essentially be stranded in their own village between 5.30pm and 8.30am.

“It will be isolating for a lot of people and hit the elderly, the young and the poor hardest.”

Comments on the petition include a Low Bentham resident who says: “I am about to retire and will find it impossible to retain a car on a pension.”

A Carnforth woman also says: “My partner’s mother and brother are ill and live in council housing in Caton. The buses are their lifeline as neither drive. They would feel very cut off.”

Mrs Gallie is urging people to voice their concerns by writing to their county councillors and MP. Morecambe & Lunesdale MP David Morris took to the buses on Friday to gauge public opinion on the proposals.

After travelling on services in Carnforth, Halton, Over Kellet and Nether Kellet Mr Morris said: “The overwhelming view is that LCC should leave these vital bus services alone.”

He is urging constituents to sign a petition he has set up at www.davidmorrismp.co.uk.

LCC currently subsidises the 20 per cent of Lancashire bus services that are not ‘commercially viable’, costing around £8m each year.

Their proposals state that the cuts will “reduce support for buses to focus on maintaining services during the daytime and ensure the county’s most vulnerable people can access public transport”.

It adds: “The proposals are being consulted on as part of the council’s budget for 2014, as it confronts an unprecedented financial challenge, needing to save £300m over the next four years due to central Government cuts.”

A decision will be made at a full council meeting on February 20.

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