Protest over plans to cut subsidies to Somerset bus services

Bus cuts protest outside Taunton Crown Court on 18 November 2015
Image caption The protest was held outside Taunton Crown Court

A protest has been held against proposed cuts to bus services and discounts for pass holders who use community transport in Somerset.

Somerset County Council is conducting two consultations as part of efforts to balance its budget for next year.

Cabinet member, David Fothergill said: "We currently subsidise 75 services and there are 25 of them we're looking at."

Protesters said the move would increase rural isolation and price some people out of using community buses.

The cuts would hit some weekend routes and services between most towns in Somerset, including Yeovil, Langport and Taunton.

Mr Fothergill added: "They're the ones with low usage or there's alternative means we can provide or it's just not economical to run them any more."

Tracey Harding, co-founder of the Frome and Villages Buses Action Group, which campaigns for better public bus services, said: "Frome has already lost three of its Saturday services in the last round of cuts made by First Bus.

"To have more cuts would be devastating."

The proposals would also halve the 50% concession bus pass holders receive on community transport to 25%.

Community bus Wiveylink is run by the Wiveliscombe Area Partnership.

Pauline Homeshaw from the group said: "We're addressing rural isolation which so many people who use Wiveylink are absolutely suffering from already and Wiveylink has rescued them from that isolated state.

The council said the consultations would run until January, with a final decision taken later.

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