Bus scheme too costly for council

PUBLISHED: 14:30 13 November 2008 | UPDATED: 10:00 10 June 2010

TOPSHAM bus services are threatened due to insufficient funds to cover free bus passes for over-60s. Exeter City Council is calling on the government to plug the funding gap of £1.7 million in the concessionary bus scheme for over 60s, it was revealed at

TOPSHAM bus services are threatened due to insufficient funds to cover free bus passes for over-60s.Exeter City Council is calling on the government to plug the funding gap of £1.7 million in the concessionary bus scheme for over 60s, it was revealed at last week's council meeting.Leader of the Council councillor Adrian Fullam warned that tax payers would have to pick up the cost and could lead to a "reduction in a lot of basic services".Decisions on where to cut spending, which will affect services, will not be made until the council has received a response from the Government.In April this year the government introduced a new nationwide free fare scheme for people over the age of 60. Figures from Stagecoach and other bus operators have estimated the scheme will cost at least £3.2 million in Exeter - leaving the council with a deficit of over £1 million.Cllr Adrian Fullam said: "We are very concerned about the much greater levels of concessionary travel than had been expected."The extra government grant (of £647,000) to the city council is supposed to cover the cost of the additional travel made but the council is seriously out of pocket."The budget not only covers people's travel from the city but also from surrounding villages and any pensioners who are travelling on holiday from anywhere in England.Parking income has also fallen in recent months and it is estimated that the council will be some £430,000 - eight per cent - short of its predicted forecast."Council tax payers cannot be expected to carry this burden," he said. "We will be lobbying government for a change in the rules so that the full cost of this scheme is met by central government, as intended, rather than by the local tax payer. "The council supports the concessionary fares scheme for older people but it is grossly unfair that they have introduced this policy without a fair funding system in place.

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