The parish council will need to make a very quick decision about whether they could and should consider helping to bridge the gap in bus service provision. It would be a huge learning curve here – Ideally, if there was a separate community transport organisation who we could work with it would be much better. It could be that the parish council might kick start this but hand over to a community organisation as soon as it was set up and had capacity to take this on - All views welcome.
Lancashire County Council have invited parish councils to take part in a scheme that would enable them to provide some bus services. This may help to fill the gap now that existing services may stop.
There is the possibility that, on some of the more profitable routes, once subsidies are removed, bus operators may find they can actually provide services without subsidy. We hope some of the services on the A59 will survive – but we don’t know – we hope that in the coming weeks it will become clearer.
As a parish council we can’t hope to replace all present services – for example, the Burscough to Skelmersdale service alone, we are advised, costs in the region of £100,000 per year of which only about £40,000 is recovered in fares. The Parish Council could work to fund some limited services, or support a community organisation (if formed) to run local services, but whatever it does is likely to require an increase in precept, and would fall on local rate payers to cover the cost.
At Wednesday evening’s meeting, the Parish Council delayed setting its budgets to give more time to investigate what can be done and what residents might feel is reasonable to pay.
Inevitably, there will be other cuts to services – LCC have enormous savings to make, enforced by Central Government.
It would help enormously if residents let us know how they feel about the loss of the bus services, and what they think about increasing the precept to pay for services to continue. We would also really like to hear from people who would like to get involved in developing new locally owned services.
Please either email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact your local parish councillor direct. Contact details are on the website or on all our notice boards