Hampshire County Council '˜should be ashamed' of 50p bus pass plans for pensioners, says resident

HAMPSHIRE County Councils proposals to introduce a 50p charge to bus journeys made with a bus pass is a '˜pernicious' attack on the elderly, according to a local resident.

Wednesday, 1st August 2018, 11:05 am
Updated Friday, 31st August 2018, 5:04 pm
Pensioners in Hampshire could see a 50p charge added to each journey made with their bus pass. Picture: Steve Reid

Andrew Mair, who lives in Gosport, says that both the council and councillors '˜should be ashamed of themselves' '“ criticising them for hiding the proposed 50p charge inside a larger consultation.

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The proposed charge '“ which the council says could raise £4m a year and help save some services '“ is still subject to a law change in parliament. But Mr Mair says that the charge would have a big impact on elderly residents.

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He said: '˜Â This is a pernicious charge that could possibly appear reasonable to those that may be able to afford it, but it is just the thin edge of the wedge.

'˜It will harm and lower the quality of life of the elderly, leading to more social isolation and loneliness.

'˜It will undoubtedly mean those that need and benefit from the concessionary bus service the most will use it less as they are unable to afford it.'

Andrew believes that the 50p charge should have been more prominent in the consultation.

Mr Mair said: '˜By using a long confusing title that starts with streetlighting is appalling and Hampshire County Council should be referred to the public body that scrutinises these matters.

'˜In addition the 50p charge should be right front and centre '“ it is hidden away as an idea that if not even included in Question 35 that provides four least worse options, with no option for '˜none of the above or an alternative'.

'˜My proposal is to find new ways of increasing the use of the public bus services by making them more reliable, have greater scope, be more frequent and much cheaper than driving; this is what the council should be focusing their efforts on, not always cutting services for those that cannot afford anything else.'

The News reported to day that the plan had attracted widespread criticism, including from bus passengers and Havant CAB.

Executive member for environment and transport at Hampshire County Council, Cllr Rob Humby, says that savings have to be made, and that this is a sensible solution '˜for the longer term'.

He said: '˜The county council is not alone nationally in looking to reduce bus subsidy spending in order to respond to budget pressures, but we would wish to do so in ways which would ensure our resources are directed where they are most needed.

'˜Through the consultation we want to explore a range of options with residents to further understand the views of local people, and I will wish to consider this feedback when I review the final recommendations made on this subject later in the year.'