Fareham and Gosport bus services are under threat from council cut backs

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HUNDREDS of homes across Fareham and Gosport could be at risk of losing their bus services from next year.

Hampshire County Council is looking at which services it will subsidise and which routes it will give to other companies.

The new timetables would come into effect on January 4 and will see some bus routes lose subsidy, meaning a reduction in service.

Executive member for transport Cllr Sean Woodward said: ‘We have to look at which routes receive subsidy and at what level. The county council has lost funding from government so we have to look very carefully at the bus subsidy bill.’

Fareham borough councillor Jim Forrest is concerned about bus services to his Stubbington ward.

First wants to withdraw the 5a, which runs clockwise on the loop via Crofton Lane, Plymouth Drive and Cuckoo Lane, leaving only the 21 serving the loop, in the anti-clockwise direction.

Cllr Forrest said: ‘These changes will affect a large number of people, and some people will be left without direct access to Fareham station. I cannot understanding their reasoning.’

Pensioner Robert Reed, from Grayshott Avenue, would be affected by the cuts. Mr Reed, 73, said: ‘It would cut me off and a good half a dozen people of my age would be cut off as well. We would have no way of getting into Fareham. It’s not just for shopping, I go to the doctors and I go to the train station to visit relatives.’

Rosemary Peake, from Lancaster Close, Portchester, is running a petition to secure subsidy for a direct route from Fareham to Portchester. Mrs Peake said: ‘I feel angry. They are ploughing money into the Eclipse service, which is great if you live in Fareham or Gosport but it’s leaving everyone else high and dry. As we know in Portchester, once services are altered and changed, like the 3a, people couldn’t use it and then they gave up so it put the route under further threat. It is ridiculous.’

To sign the petition go to the Portchester Community Association on West Street, Portchester.

Cllr Forrest urged people to contact their councillors if they are concerned about the changes, so they can pass on the concerns to the council.

Marc Reddy, the managing director of First Hampshire, Dorset and Berkshire, said: ‘Our aim is to provide a network that meets our customers’ needs. The vast majority of bus services are provided commercially without subsidy.

‘However, there are a small number which can only be operated with financial support from the local authority. These services are usually deemed as “socially necessary” and are provided under contract to the council, often following a competitive tendering exercise.

‘We are conscious most local authorities are under extreme pressure in regard to their budgets for the provision of these socially necessary services and we continue to work with our partners at the county council to find cost-effective solutions to meet this need.’