Dial-a-bus service faces axe in Derbyshire

Patrick Dawson.
Patrick Dawson.

A community transport chief has slammed cost-cutting plans which could spell the end of “vital” travel services for thousands of elderly residents.

Derbyshire County Council is to launch a consultation on proposals to completely withdraw funding for a range of services, including Dial-a-Bus.

About 1,300 people with mobility problems rely on the doorstop service every month to go shopping and visit friends.

Patrick Dawson, chief executive of Community Transport for Town and County, which covers Chesterfield and Amber Valley, said: “If these plans go ahead, there could be massive implications for thousands of our service users.

“We could see people stranded in their homes and unable to do really important things like going to the supermarket and visiting their friends.

“What will they do?

“The proposals are causing considerable stress among some of the most vulnerable in our society.”

aCTive travel – a door-to-door service which takes people to health appointments – also faces the axe.

And Wheels to Work – which operates a moped loan scheme for people needing to travel to work – would lose its £50,000-a-year council funding, throwing its future into doubt.

The Labour-led council needs to save £157million by 2018 because of Government cuts.

Councillor Andy Botham, the council’s deputy cabinet member for jobs, economy and transport, said: “We’re having to think the unthinkable.

“We do not want to make these unrelenting cuts which will affect services that local people rely on but we have been left with no choice and some very difficult decisions will have to be made.

“We will not take any decisions lightly and before we agree anything we need to understand what the impact of cutting or reducing funding for any of these transport services will be,” added Cllr Botham.

In addition to the proposed community transport cuts, the council is considering withdrawing a total of £2.5million towards supported bus services by 2016/17.

This would mean bus services having to be withdrawn from large areas of the county and restricting Sunday, early morning and evening services to the towns and larger villages.

Initial surveys to find out how well-used community transport and council-funded bus services will be carried out in the autumn.

Further consultation will take place during 2015.

Cllr Botham said: “We are urging people to take part in these surveys and consultations so that we can fully understand the impact of any decisions we may make.

“We want to ensure the funding that we are still able to provide is put to the best possible use so that we can still enable people to get out and about.”