Rural bus routes in Melton borough are saved from being axed

First bus eclipse bus STOCK IMAGES via kb

Caption: First Hampshire's Eclipse bus service PPP-160120-174844001
First bus eclipse bus STOCK IMAGES via kb Caption: First Hampshire's Eclipse bus service PPP-160120-174844001

Threatened rural bus routes in the Melton borough have been saved after county councillors shelved plans to cut £1.3 million of subsidies.

Members yesterday (Wednesday) approved plans to save £66 million over the next four years and raise County Hall’s share of Council Tax bills by 3.99 per cent from April.

In setting the budget for Leicestershire County Council, savings of £43 million were identified but proposals to include axing the bus subsidies across the county were dropped.

A spokesperson said: “There was going to be a review of the rural bus services across the county which the council provides subsidies for.

“These are routes which wouldn’t be commercially viable for operators to provide services for.

“This £1.3 million has not now been included in the list of cuts in the council’s budget.”

The council’s deputy leader, Councillor Byron Rhodes, said the bus subsidy savings were to be replaced by increased income from improved collection of Council Tax and business rates.

Councillor Rhodes, who represents the Melton Belvoir division on the authority, said: “We need to make savings because resources are simply not keeping up with demand and cost increases, including inflation of £37 million, growth of £25 million, mainly for children’s and adults’ social care; and major demographic pressures, from a 60,000 increase in the over 65 population by 2030.”

Savings over the next four years agreed in the budget at Wednesday’s meeting included £4.3 million from children’s social care placements, by using more foster care, and £1.3 million by introducing smart (self-access) libraries and a central museums collections hub.

A further £400,000 was saved from a review of how recycling and household waste sites are run.

Further savings of £23 million have still to be identified to make up the shortfall in the £66 million target.

These could come from having a more joined-up service with partner organisations to support disabled people and a review of the £10 million social care and special educational needs transport budget.

Achieving the £66 million savings is expected to result in the loss of 400 of the council’s 4,800 full-time equivalent posts, excluding those working in schools.

Increasing the council’s share of Council Tax will increase Band D properties in Melton by around £45 to £1,172.38 from April.