County council ‘no’ to bus service subsidy

TRANSPORT bosses have refused to help fund a lifeline bus route facing the axe – despite councillors’ fears there could be “catastrophic” consequences.

More than 1,000 people have signed petitions to stop Stagecoach making drastic cuts to the number 3 bus between Grimsby and Lincoln after a 20 per cent cut in its tax relief on fuel.

Market Rasen and Caistor town councils want Lincolnshire County Council to subsidise the bus service which they say is a lifeline for people living in rural places like Nettleton, Holton le Moor, Middle Rasen, Linwood and Faldingworth.

But Lincolnshire County Council’s head of transportation Chris Briggs has said it does not have enough money to help – its budget for this has just been cut from £5m to £4m.

He said: “The costs quoted to us are too high for us to meet and would require additional funding that is not there, or subsidies being removed from other areas, which would have a similar impact. The reality of public demand is that it is insufficient for the operator to make a profit.”

West Lindsey District Council councillor Alan Caine said the service was one of only a few routes not currently subsidised by the county council.

At the moment there is an hourly service but Stagecoach wants to change this to five buses a day leaving Lincoln at 6.55am, 8.40am, 1.40pm, 3.40pm and 5.40pm.

Market Rasen’s county councillor Burt Keimach said: “We recognise and understand there is deep feeling about this and we know there are petitions.

“We have a duty to provide a bus service so we will be working towards a solution.

“It is a serious situation and I will completely support anyone who needs to get around on a bus.”

Coun Keimach said the council’s portfolio holder would be meeting with the bus company on Monday, March 19.

Market Rasen’s deputy mayor Coun Steve Bunney said he has seen 25 people waiting for the number 3 bus in Market Rasen. And councillors in Caistor share his concerns.

At a town council meeting, mayor Coun John Burns Salmond said: “It’s horrifying. I’m sure we all agree it’s catastrophic.”

Coun Martin Sizer, who runs Caistor Post Office, said: “The public is going mental. My post office has been inundated with people. The feeling is so strong they’ve been flocking in their droves.”

Coun Juliet Savage said: “It’s an absolute necessity to have a bus route for work. It’s absolutely tragic.

“If people are going to be put out of work, there’s going to be an expense. We need to draw this to their attention.”