Town councillors united in vote against any cuts to Wiltshire bus subsidies
What is going to happen to the Marlborough area's buses after Wiltshire Council's consultation on their various levels of subsidy to the companies that run the bus routes? Marlborough town council has voted to oppose any cuts to subsidies.
So far over 9,000 people have responded to the consultation and recorded their views. The consultation ends on April 4 and Marlborough town council's planning committee (March 21) wanted to take a view for the whole council on the consultation.
It gives a series of options for reducing subsidies which would take effect in the financial year 2017-2018 - one of those options allows consultees to urge the council to make no reductions at all to bus subsidies.
The committee's chair, Councillor Marian Hannaford-Dobson, thought councillors should take each of the six options in turn - and vote on each of them. They might, for instance, have chosen to cut the subsidy for Bank Holiday and Sunday buses.
However, some councillors, perhaps prompted by the questioning of continued austerity cuts raised over the previous weekend by the ministerial resignation from the government, thought cuts to bus services had already gone far enough. It was argued that a total rejection of cuts to these subsidies would have more impact on Wiltshire Council's decision making.
Councillor Guy Loosmore led the charge: "This is purely about money - it's not taking people into account. The issue is we cannot afford for anymore services to be cut." Councillor Dow agreed - she wanted the committee to say no subsidies should be cut.
Various categories of those most in need of buses were put forward: students travelling to college in Swindon, old people without cars, people going to work, people using the bus link to rail services, relatives of those in hospitals and so on. Though no one mentioned the likely impact on tourism if many routes were closed.
Councillor Nick Fogg: "We are reaching the point where some of these cuts are costing more than they save - costing more in social impact and money spent further on."
Councillors appeared united in the view that any further cuts to bus routes in the Marlborough area would have 'disastrous' economic and social consequences for such a rural population.
After some debate, Councillors Loosmore and Hall proposed that the town council does not support any reduction in bus subsidies. It was passed unanimously - they were united in their opposition to any cuts.
You can still put your views to Wiltshire Council's online consultation - here.
A change.org petition arising from the Salisbury Journal's campaign to 'Stop bus cuts' is still open and has so far collected 4,676 signatures.