Legal threat prompts shock move by Cambridgeshire to suspend bus service cuts
PUBLISHED: 09:45 27 June 2011
FEAR of a legal challenge has prompted Cambridgeshire County Council to halt the phased withdrawal of bus service subsidies.
"“Now the council has shown it can talk the talk, but the question is whether it can walk the walk?”"
Glenn Edge, head of passenger transport services, will ask the council’s Cabinet on July 5 to hold the cuts “in abeyance during the currency of the review”.
The council believes it is within its rights to pull the subsidies but Mr Edge wants a “rigorous process” undertaken to enable a “revalidated recommendation” to be put to councillors.
“Given the significant funding cuts having to be made across the country, there appears to be a growing tendency for many local authority decisions to be challenged in the courts,” says Mr Edge.
“Therefore it is imperative that the process used to review our decision to withdraw bus subsidy funding is able to withstand close scrutiny”.
The main purpose of a review, he says, will be to ensure the county council “has paid due regard to all relevant aspects of the law” especially through concerning equality and local transport acts.
Mr Edge accepts withdrawing subsidies “adversely affect those needing them, especially the vulnerable who historically tend to use buses more than other groups”.
But he hopes the council will be able to develop alternative solutions.
Ceasing further bus subsidy cuts will mean the council having to find an extra £250,000.
Sophie Allain, of the Campaign for Better Transport pressure group, said: “This is great new for Cambridgeshire bus users and shows the efforts of Save Our Buses and local campaigners have paid off.
“Now the council has shown it can talk the talk, but the question is whether it can walk the walk?”
She said Cambridgeshire had been identified as one of the worst areas in the country for bus cuts.
Last month a Cambridge resident, Jo Green, launched a legal challenge against the council’s decision.