Despite a brave and passionate campaign by local bus users the Conservative Cheshire East Cabinet voted to slash the bus services budget by 30% - leaving the whole of Cheshire East with NO evening, Sunday or Bank Holiday bus services whatsoever from April next year.
Several Labour councillors sought to ‘call-in’ this draconian decision that will leave many residents isolated and unable to access work, medical and family at evening or weekends.
However, the application was rejected by the Council’s acting Monitoring Officer despite the fact that the decision will affect many residents.
The Council’s acting Monitoring Officer (standing in as the Monitoring Officer is suspended) acknowledged that the report for the committee meeting was produced late meaning many members of the public (and councillors) had very little time to study the final proposals. A second meeting was held, allowing councillors more time to read the report, but the second meeting was in secret so members of the public could not attend or speak.
Cllr Jill Rhodes, Labour Councillor for Crewe West, said, ‘Residents are still uncertain of the ultimate outcome of the review. The amount to be cut from the budget has dropped from £1.56 million to £1 million. However, bus service users are still not sure if their route will still operate after April next year, as there is a suggestion that some cuts may not happen if the tendering process can result in more savings. The whole process seems to be waiting on the tendering outcomes, which leaves may residents that are dependent on the threatened services in limbo.’
Cllr Dorothy Flude, Labour Councillor for Crewe South, said, “These cuts will affect many, many residents, isolating those in both town and country that currently rely on the lifeline that is their local bus service to visit hospitals etc. during the evening and at weekends.’
Cllr Nick Mannion, Labour Councillor for Macclesfield West & Ivy said, “The decision to cut evening services into our town centres is perverse! On the one hand the Council is putting forward policies, strategies and master plans to revive the night time economy in places such as Crewe and Macclesfield, yet they are now effectively saying that only car owners are welcome!