West Lancashire MP, Rosie Cooper, has fiercely criticised Lancashire County Council’s decision not to continue funding discretionary travel concessions on Dial-A-Ride services, which has left the future in doubt.
MP Rosie has written to the Cabinet Member of Lancashire County Council calling on him to rethink this dreadful decision and not to sign the death warrant of community transport services.
If the grant is removed, it is understood that people would be required to pay the full fare to use the dial-a-ride service. Prices vary depending on the journey but the average cost of a single journey is £5.45, making it simply unaffordable for many elderly and disabled people in West Lancashire to use dial-a-ride.
Just last year Lancashire County Council awarded West Lancashire Dial-A-Ride a three year contract to provide community transport services in the area. The deal offered Dial-A-Ride financial stability and a chance to invest. This has all been taken away in one fell swoop without notice, three weeks before the new financial year begins.
MP Rosie said:
“There are so many elderly, disabled and vulnerable people in West Lancashire for whom Dial-A-Ride is their lifeline. Without it they could become isolated, have no access to transport to visit their friends, go to the shops or get to GP and hospital appointments.
“I believe this decision is ill-thought through, poorly planned and the implementation is shambolic. To drop this bombshell just three weeks before the new rules begin is completely unacceptable. We could see the ludicrous situation of brand new buses being mothballed because Dial-A-Ride cannot afford to run them and should they be forced to close down, there would be enormous costs due to lease agreements on these vehicles. Economics of the madhouse!
“Cllr Ashton’s claim that it will be ‘business as usual’ just demonstrates that he is out of touch and has no idea about the devastation he is about cause with this decision. I am strongly urging him to reconsider.
“The Conservative Administration should be ashamed of themselves; if they fail to take the right action, the necessary action to secure the future of Dial-A-Ride services.”