Hockney gives backing to campaign over bus fares

Yorkshire artist David Hockney has backed a campaign to protect concessionary bus fares on Scarborough seafront.

Hockney, who lives 20 miles down the coast in Bridlington, has signed a petition against North Yorkshire County Council’s proposals to ditch free bus travel for pensioners and the disabled on two routes in Scarborough.

It is a boost for a campaign against the proposed cuts, which is being spearheaded by Scarborough Borough Council’s Labour group. Mr Hockney was visiting the town on Saturday when the council’s Labour group leader Coun Eric Broadbent asked him to sign the petition, which will be handed to the county council at the end of the month.

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Coun Broadbent said: “David was quite happy to sign, although living in Bridlington he thought it wouldn’t affect him very much. But the point we are making is that the concessionary fare scheme is a national scheme, and once we allow little bits of it to be nibbled away here and there, it will end up more as a postcode lottery.”

More than 250 signatures were gathered in two hours and deputy Labour leader Colin Challen said: “A lot of people said that if they cannot use their bus passes they were likely to spend less in Scarborough.”

The county council launched a consultation on proposals to cut funding for the seafront services in May after claiming that only 12 per cent of the passengers were locals. Criticising the claim, the Labour group believes other routes could be labelled as tourist services in an attempt to make more cuts.

The move is aimed at saving at least £240,000 in this financial year as the council battles a multi-million pound funding crisis after taking on the running of North Yorkshire’s bus passes on April 1.

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The affected routes are Service 108 from the Sea Life Centre to the promenade via the town centre and Service 109 along the seafront. Labour councillors believe a decision could be made in September, however the county council was unable to confirm this.

Meanwhile, York Council has come under fire from villagers over a shake-up to bus services from August 28. Passengers in Elvington and East Yorkshire villages will be hit by changes to early morning commuter services into York. Bishopthorpe residents will be hit by longer waiting times on evening and Sunday services.