Tories ‘defy public’ in bus cuts push that just 30 out of thousands supported

Herts Lib Dem county councillors are opposing the bus cuts
Herts Lib Dem county councillors are opposing the bus cuts

Despite more than 12,000 people petitioning for bus services to be protected, the Tory leaders of County Hall are still determined to slash them across Herts.

At Tuesday’s Herts County Council highways and transport panel meeting they voted down proposals from the Lib Dems that could have protected buses and saved £753,000.

Their own public consultation showed only 30 people out of 4,548 supported cuts in services. Ten petitions have been signed by more than 12,000 people opposing cuts.

The Tories now plan to have a new consultation on cutting £1.5m from the bus budget. There are three proposals for changes to 119 subsidised bus services in Herts.

They include withdrawing funding from buses that run after 7.30pm on Monday to Saturday – instead of 6.30pm as was proposed in the original consultation. Funding for Sunday buses, except those that directly serve hospitals, could also be scapped, and the amount of subsidy per passenger per trip could be limited.

Save Our Buses Hertfordshire campaigner Terry Figg said: “The council ignored the will of the public and are instead pressing ahead with another needless and expensive consultation. We will redouble our efforts to fight these new proposed cuts.”

Leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition on the council Stephen Giles-Medhurst said: “I am shocked and disgusted that the Tories having consulted residents, having now found the savings they wanted are now wanting to decimate the bus services totally.

“This is a scandal and disgusting. Shift workers, people visiting family in hospital and even commuters will be hit - many people are still on their way home from work at 7.30pm.

“We should be encouraging people out of cars and onto buses, and cutting services like this will just make matters worse.”

New proposals will now go before cabinet on Monday, December 15.

Tory council cabinet member for highways Terry Douris said: “We have to prioritise how we spend our money to deliver the services that are most needed within our existing budgets.”

There will be a fresh round of consultations from January to March with a decision next May.