03/02/2011

Norfolk Bus Pass Funding Shortfall

Norfolk County Council have hit out at the government who have not given them enough money to pay for free travel for thousands of pensioners across the county.

Council bosses say there is a shortfall of up to £4.5 million in the money they have been given to reimburse bus operators who provide the free travel.

The county council who takes over responsibility of the bus passes from the district councils in April made a plea to the government in December hoping that the funding shortfall was a mistake but the council has now been told by the Department For Communities and Local Government (DCLG) that they will have to make do with the money already granted.

The council is joining forces with 15 other councils to demand that the government plugs the gap. The council has warned that if the funding gap is not plugged other services could suffer.

The county council who are making £155 million of cuts over the next three years have recently announced that they will have to end the discretionary hour of free travel the district councils have offered which means pass holders will no longer be able to travel for free between 0830 and 0930, pass holders will also no longer recieve free travel on Norwich Park & Ride and will instead have to pay £1 for a return ticket.

The Local Government Association which represents over 350 councils across the UK is calling on the government to urgently review how money is allocated to councils to meet the ever increasing demands for free bus travel.

Other councils in the east are also facing funding shortfall with Cambridgeshire County Council expecting a gap between £1 million and £1.5 million and Suffolk County Council facing a £1.2 million shortfall.

{Source of information - Norfolk County Council/EDP24}