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Saturday, 02 August 2014

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‘Vital’ Cumbria bus service threatened as council seeks to save cash

A CUMBRIA bus service seen as an essential lifeline is under threat.

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AT RISK The number 7 is having its subsidies withdrawn by Cumbria County Council HARRY ATKINSON REF: 50064680B001

The number 7 from Barrow, which serves Dalton, Askam, Ireleth, Kirkby through to Grizebeck, Broughton, Millom and Haverigg, is having its subsidies withdrawn by Cumbria County Council.

The council says it is a result of having to make massive savings and it is working with operators to seek a viable, alternative commercial solution.

Askam and Ireleth Parish Council chairman Harry Barker said although he understood cutbacks had to be made, it was a vital service to some.

He said: “It’s going to be very inconvenient for a lot of people if it goes. There will be no bus service at all and it will be hard work for people who rely on the bus.”

Cumbria county councillor for Millom, Keith Hitchen, said: “Sixty-two per cent of people travelling on that bus service are using free bus passes which means there’s a reduced income for the service provider.

“I couldn’t see us going back to the level of service we used before. We now have to look at other options such as Rural Wheels and volunteer drivers.

“It’s a shame but we are a pretty resilient community and we can come up with alternatives ourselves.”

A Stagecoach spokesman said: “We operate a number of journeys on service 7 between Barrow and Millom under contract to Cumbria County Council. We have not received a termination notice for this contract. Were this to happen we would then assess the viability of these journeys going forward.”

A spokesman for Cumbria County Council said: “The council is providing additional one-off revenue funding of £1m to mitigate against the impact of its transport savings, and this has allowed the council to phase in the withdrawal of subsidies and other transport changes so that alternative transport arrangements can be introduced where possible before services are changed.

“We are currently working with operators to seek a viable alternative commercial solution for these services, including service 7.”

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