TRANSPORT was the hot topic at an election debate held last night.
Residents, councillors, and former mayors attended the debate in Fareham organised by The News aimed at highlighting local policies and the upcoming elections.
Cllr Sean Woodward from the Conservatives, Cllr Katrina Trott from the Lib Dems, Cllr Chris Wood from Ukip, Richard Ryan representing Labour and Miles Grindey from Green Party attended, along with around 100 voters.
A hot topic among the politicians and the audience was transport and how areas outside Fareham town centre, such as Hill Head and Whiteley, would cope with the lack of buses.
As previously reported in The News, Fareham has faced a number of cuts in bus services due to low passenger numbers using them.
But people attending the debate saw it as an opportunity to ask about the current bus situation and how the candidates would deal with it.
For many of the candidates, the biggest issue was subsidies and the cost of running a service.
Cllr Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council who is running in the Sarisbury ward, said: ‘The council is limited to what it can do in regards to buses and the services.
‘As a law bus companies cannot make a loss and routes cannot make a loss so the council ends up subsiding services.
‘Currently, Hampshire County Council pays around £20m on the bus services but only £7m of that goes on subsidising services.
‘So an alternative to that, is community buses and taxi shares.’
Cllr Trott agreed and said: ‘The only way to guarantee bus services is for the council to subsidise them.
‘This then costs money which cannot be used elsewhere.
‘Community buses would be the way forward because groups and organisations can arrange their own transport that suits them. Another alternative is taxi shares.’
But for Cllr Wood, who is running for the Stubbington ward seat, ensuring buses continue to go to the outskirts of Fareham is a key factor.
He added: ‘The fear is that a bus service will stop going to Hill Head.
‘That simply cannot be allowed to happen.’
Last night’s meeting was one of a series across the area The News has organised giving readers a chance to quiz candidates. Tonight’s is in Gosport at Thorngate Halls, Bury Road, beginning at 7.30pm.