BUS campaigners have scored a victory after the bulk of plans to cut routes across Portsmouth were thrown out.
The city council had planned to take away £150,000 it gives operators to run routes, which would have meant the complete loss of First’s 19 and 19A services.
The buses run from Monday to Saturday across areas including Baffins, Milton, the city centre and Southsea, and the cuts would have seen 11 roads without a stop.
But Portsmouth Tory traffic boss Ken Ellcome said he didn’t realise the removal of the 11 stops would have meant a complete loss of the services – so decided they would be kept.
The loss of the 19 and 19A would have made up £92,000 of the total proposed savings – and now something else in the traffic budget will have to be cut to ensure the books are balanced.
Speaking at a meeting last night, Cllr Ellcome said: ‘I will reinstate the 19 and 19A. I appreciate that will cause some complications in terms of finances, but I am convinced by the arguments during the debate that this is the right thing to do.’
I don’t want the elderly or anyone else in the south of the city to be isolated.Portsmouth Tory traffic boss Ken Ellcome
Cllr Ellcome added: ‘I don’t want the elderly or anyone else in the south of the city to be isolated.’
For residents of Stubbington Avenue, for example, had the cuts gone through the nearest bus stop would have been 500 metres away.
The U-turn comes after Lib Dem councillors Darren Sanders and Lynne Stagg warned the service cuts would hit vulnerable and elderly people the hardest.
They both met First general manager Dervla McKay ahead of the meeting to express their concerns.
Cllr Sanders said: ‘This is great news. I am delighted Cllr Ellcome has listened to the points made by myself, Cllr Stagg and the residents.’
But concerns remain about First’s plan to re-route the 13 and 14 services which would mean buses no longer serving Hayling Avenue and Langstone Road – about 410 homes. Plans to axe bus stops in four roads as part of the 24 service – Port Way (Port Solent), Clement Attlee Way, Binnacle Way and Compass Way – and stop buses going to the Eastney Lifeboat Station section of Ferry Road – were approved.