Wiltshire

Swindon disabled bus service tender plan defended

A plan to put a bus service for elderly and disabled people in Swindon out to tender has been defended by the Conservative-run local authority.

The town's Labour group said handing over the Dial-a-Ride charity service to a private firm is an attack on the vulnerable.

More than 2,000 people in Swindon are registered to use Dial-a-Ride.

Swindon Borough Council said it is looking at different options designed to save money.

The current contract ends in September and the council wants to save £70,000 by handing over the service to a commercial firm.

'Lifestyle hit'

Local Labour group leader, Jim Grant said a commercial firm would not offer the same level of service currently provided by Dial-a-Ride.

He said: "This service is used by people that cannot use other means of public transport. If the service is cut, their lifestyle will be impaired.

"It's typical of the Tories' priorities that if they have to make cuts they make them for the vulnerable and the disabled."

Keith Williams of Swindon Borough Council said the authority needs to "balance the budget", and parts of the Dial-a-Ride package are currently being used on "inessential" services such as minibus training and the hiring of buses to scout groups.

Mr Williams also said the council has a legal obligation to put the service out to tender.

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