Wokingham Liberal Democrats are urging Wokingham Conservatives to carefully consider the impact on local communities before they make any cuts in funding to important bus routes in Woodley, Earley and more rural areas.
According to the Campaign for Better Transport, which has recently launched its ‘Save our Buses’ campaign, some councils intend to end all subsidised services. Stephen Joseph, the chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, has said that the cuts to bus services would hit the poorest and most vulnerable hardest. He has further added: “Politicians must consider the social, economic and environmental consequences of failing to protect our bus services.”
Councillor Kay Gilder (Liberal Democrat Councillor for South Lake ward) said: “Liberal Democrats successfully campaigned to retain a limited bus service in Woodley and Earley when cuts were threatened in 2009. I would hate to think of the consequences if the controlling Conservative group on the borough council did decide to cut back funding in this year’s budget.”
Councillor Phil Challis (Liberal Democrat Councillor for Loddon ward) said: “Without council funding the important No 19 hospital route would be lost and Woodley Airfield would have no bus service at all for most of the day. The impact throughout the borough would be magnified, if as expected, the Conservatives further reduce the funding for travel tokens which vulnerable residents can use to pay for taxis if there are no buses.”
Councillor Prue Bray (leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Wokingham Borough Council) said: “We know that the budget will be tight this year. However retaining an acceptable bus service would be high on the Liberal Democrat priority list for social, economic and environmental reasons. The Conservatives appear to have different priorities. They have just agreed to spend millions of pounds on a road linking the railway station to the Reading Road near St Paul’s Church in Wokingham town. It would only take a fraction of that money to make sure residents across the whole borough had a decent bus service.”