Fears over £1.3m cut to rural bus services in Devon

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Rural bus services in Devon are facing a cut of £1.3m raising fears by campaign groups that "life-line" services will be lost.

The county council has unveiled a £54m package of cuts which includes cutting the £7.7m spent on rural services.

Sarah Allen, of the Campaign for Better Transport, said areas would be left without "socially necessary services" of no interest to commercial firms.

The council has blamed central government for the cuts to its grant.

'Short-term'

"There's a real danger that we could see some serious damage done," said Ms Allen.

Many authorities around England were making deep cuts in their provision for rural bus subsidies viewing it as "a short-term, easy saving", she told BBC Radio Devon.

"In some counties in England 50% of council-supported services could be lost," she added.

The Campaign for Better Transport has also criticised the authority, accusing it of spending £5m on the Kingkerswell bypass, a controversial project that was subsequently abandoned by central government.

Country Bus operates 18 routes which receive County Council subsidies, from its headquarters at Heathfield near near Newton Abbot.

Manager Neil Romig said: "If we cannot afford to run the services and Devon County Council cannot afford to subsidise them then we are looking at job losses and a reduction in the company."

The detail of the services that will bear the brunt of the £1.3m cut have not yet been revealed but Mr Romig said he expected to know early next month.

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