Somerset

Somerset County Council plan to cut 35 bus routes

Somerset County Council has proposed to cut £1.5m from its bus subsidies which could see 35 bus routes withdrawn.

Depending on the outcome of the public consultation, there could also be a reduction in service to 18 routes.

Councillor Harvey Siggs said: "We're trying to make the best of it and we will still put £1.5m into bus subsidies and preserving school transport."

Those against the cuts say bus services are a lifeline for people who are disabled, elderly or who cannot drive.

Ben Manning, a regular passenger on the number 18 bus from Bincombe, in the Quantock Hills, to Bridgwater, said: "A lot of very elderly, very infirm people use it.

'Under pressure'

"For those of us who don't drive, which I know is quite unusual, it really is a lifeline."

In 2011-12, the bus subsidy was cut by 46% from £5.2m to £2.6m.

"We've got to reduce our budget by £70m, clearly we are under pressure as regards to the elderly and the vulnerable, these are things we've got to think about when balancing the budget," said Mr Siggs.

Other services affected by the proposals include community transport groups which mostly serve elderly and disabled people.

The South Somerset Association for Voluntary and Community Action, which runs the Chard and Ilminster Slinky bus service, will see a 16% cut.

The public consultation will run until 12 January.

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