Council will subsidise bus service for £4,500 following county cuts

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A COUNCIL has agreed to subsidise part of a bus service after it was axed due to cuts.

Gosport Borough Council will pay £4,500 to subsidise the number 11 bus for two years which serves the A32, Forton Road and Haslar.

The Saturday service was axed at the end of last year following budget cuts by Hampshire County Council.

But Gosport Borough Council had agreed to put it back into use after a unanimous vote by councillors.

Councillor Graham Burgess has been involved in bus services in the town.

He said: ‘We have agreed to subsidise the number 11 service for two years.

‘It will cost us £4,500 but it is a much-needed service.

‘The people around Clayhall Road and Haslar don’t have access to another service and not many buses go all the way down the A32. A lot of people live in those areas but they don’t have a service.

‘It will especially make a lot of difference to the residents that live in Juniper Court as well.

‘Councillor Shaun Cully and I fought to keep the service in the county council role too.’

But after looking at the subsidy, Hampshire Council County’s Economy, Transport and Environment board decided to axe the service along with many others across the Solent area.

Councillor Sean Woodward, executive member, said: ‘Hampshire County Council spends £18m on bus services a year. Of this, £13m is spent on bus passes for older people.

‘A further £1m is spent on community transport which leaves just £4m to subsidise bus services.

‘We need to make cuts to the cost of the buses but we cannot touch the bus passes and we want to keep the community transport so that just leaves the subsidy.

‘Knowing that we would have this difficult decision, we decided to hold a consultation in the summer.’

Feedback from the consultation showed bus users would rather have Monday to Friday services so the decision was made to cut some Saturday buses.

Following these changes and cuts in services, Gosport Borough Council decided to start a bus working group.

Their aim was to speak to people in the town and hear how they were being affected by the cuts and how they could help.

Since being set up last year, the group has written a report which has been reviewed by the overview and scrutiny committee.

Councillor Bob Forder, chairman of the overview and scrutiny committee said: ‘In the last few months, there have been an awful lot of changes to the bus service, especially with the introduction of the Eclipse bus.

‘People in the borough have voiced a lot of concerns so the council set up the group to investigate what was causing all the concerns.’