North Yorkshire council asks for views of subsidy cuts

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Residents of North Yorkshire are being asked for their views about controversial plans to slash bus subsidies by a council which is faced with cutting its spending by a third once the Government’s swingeing austerity measures are fully realised.

North Yorkshire County Council began the consultation on plans to reduce bus subsidies by 25 per cent – the equivalent of £1.1m a year – as part of a range of proposals to balance budgets.

The authority spends about £4.4m each year subsidising the 20 per cent of bus journeys that are not commercially viable, but pledged to ensure every effort is made to retain basic services to the closest market towns wherever possible despite the proposed cuts.

The executive member for passenger transport, Councillor Chris Metcalfe, said: “We know that bus services are a lifeline for many people – not everyone has access to a car. However, we have huge financial pressures and we have to reduce our expenditure across the board.”

The council is faced with enforcing cuts totalling nearly £160m by 2018/19 – almost a third of the overall revenue budget it had only eight years previously.

The latest round of measures to make annual savings of £5.9m were approved last month, although the full extent of the cuts to plug the overall £158m financial blackhole has yet to be finalised.

The consultation runs until November 25.