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Budget cuts to community transport service and concessionary travel scheme planned

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PLANS to slash the budget for community transport services and concessionary travel by up to £800,000 have been revealed by Hampshire County Council.

As it struggles to meet an £80m shortfall by April 2023, the authority is looking at passing costs on to customers rather than reducing services.

Options include no longer supporting elements of the concessionary travel scheme, for example by withdrawing taxi vouchers as an alternative to a disabled person’s bus pass.

The county council needs to meet an £80m shortfall by April 2023
The county council needs to meet an £80m shortfall by April 2023

Other changes could include introducing fees for Taxishare services, increasing the charge for replacing lost or damaged bus passes, and making operational changes to services including Dial-a-Ride, Call & Go, Taxishare and Minibus Group Hire.

Additionally, the council said around £150,000 could be saved through changes to back-office functions which would not have an impact on service delivery.

A public consultation has been launched, which will run until 24th July.

Cllr Edward Heron, HCC’s cabinet member for transport, said: “I’d like to reassure service users especially that no decisions have been made.

“We will endeavour to minimise the impact on passengers from any changes that may be agreed at a later date; however, it is essential that we find ways to do things differently and with reduced costs.

“Therefore, it is really important that people take this opportunity to tell us what they think of the proposed changes. Their views, along with other factors, will help to inform any recommendations for changes.”

Cllr Edward Heron
Cllr Edward Heron

HCC’s Bus Service Improvement Plan, aimed at encouraging people to travel sustainably, was not awarded government funding and so cannot be delivered as initially envisaged.

But the council said it remains committed to the plan and still intends to develop bus services that provide affordable, attractive, easy and safe alternatives to car travel.

If changes are introduced later in the year, the council stressed that it will work in partnership with bus operators to “secure a network of bus services for residents across Hampshire within the resources available”.

“We would continue to target resources at those areas and people who need it most, whilst at the same time providing the best value for money,” said a spokesperson.

To view the proposals, go to www.hants.gov.uk/aboutthecouncil/haveyoursay/consultations/passenger-transport

To complete an online response form, visit hampshirecc.welcomesyourfeedback.net/s/PT2022

To request a paper copy of the information pack and response form call 01962 846730.

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