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RESIDENTS and bus users are being asked to have their say on proposed reductions to subsidised services and the introduction of more locally targeted initiatives

The public consultation, which is also asking various interest groups and bus users to comment, is part of the Council’s overall budget planning process.

The County Council’s Cabinet has agreed that a review of last year’s budget decision to cut the £2.7 million that is currently spent on subsidising bus journeys in Cambridgeshire over the next four years should take place.

It also agreed the Cambridgeshire Future Transport project should go forward. This could see £34 million spent by different public services on supported transport combined and used to create better targeted local services, designed with the help of communities.The project looks to find alternative and more community-led solutions to providing transport to meet local needs and mitigate changes made to subsidised bus services where possible.

Letters are going out to interested groups and local councils as well as posters on buses encouraging people to have their say. An online questionnaire is available at www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/busreview

The majority of bus services in Cambridgeshire (about 80%) are provided by commercial operators without subsidy. However, the County Council subsidises some bus services which bus operators are unable to operate on a commercial basis.

In the future, this may not be possible due to reduced overall grants to councils from Government and increased costs of services. The County Council needs to make cumulative savings of around £540 million over the next five years and some of these savings have to come from the transport budget.

This review is being carried out as part of the council’s budget planning process, ensuring the authority consults widely and seek views on not only the principle of making the cuts but also on the impact of specific route changes. The Council is also looking back at the routes that have already been cut, gathering feedback on how this has impacted communities in these areas.

Alongside this work, the Council is working hard with operators, community transport providers, local councils and businesses as part of the groundbreaking Cambridgeshire Future Transport project.

This aims to look at innovative ways of providing transport and to focus this more on community and local needs. This could be through the expansion of community transport or developing completely new forms of demand-led transport.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Steve Criswell, Cabinet Member for Community Infrastructure, said: “Your views are an important part of this process to help us decide on how we implement the financial savings and where possible find local solutions. We urge people to have their say so we can plan properly and design new transport initiatives to help meet the needs of our communities.”

Paper copies of the questionnaire are available by:

* By email bus.tenders@cambridgeshire.gov.uk, By telephone 0345 045 0675

* By post Cambridgeshire County Council, CC1301, Castle Court, Shire Hall, Cambridge CB3 0AP

The closing date for the questionnaire is December 9.