Cash concern over Exmouth OAP free bus travel

THERE are fears that there won t be enough cash to fund free travel for all of the county s 233,000 over 60 s if cash-strapped County Hall picks up the tab.

THERE are fears that there won't be enough cash to fund free travel for all of the county's 233,000 over 60's if cash-strapped County Hall picks up the tab.

The county council is preparing for the transfer of the national concessionary bus pass scheme, which includes 27,000 over 60s in East Devon, from district councils.

Currently the Council administers the scheme on behalf of the Devon Concessionary Bus Travel Partnership, made up of seven of the district council's except East Devon who opted out and run their own scheme.

But county chiefs are concerned over the uncertainty of the funding when the responsibility for free travel passes to Devon County Council next April.

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Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation said that their best current estimate for the scheme could cost the county �12.35m in the next financial year.

He said: "The scheme has been a success story since its introduction but I believe unless the Government fully funds Councils then it should be the Government that funds the scheme.

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"Until Government confirms the funding formula we're not certain of the funding level, but there are serious concerns that the scheme will be under-funded, so we are between a rock and a hard place."

The County Council agreed the need to assess the costs of options to provide free travel for one companion for disabled pass holders in Devon, who require a companion to travel, and for concessionary passes to start from 9am on weekdays in rural areas with infrequent bus services, rather than 9:30am as in many districts at present.

In March this year around 168,000 passes were issued in Devon - a 72 per cent uptake of over 60s in the county.

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