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Figures reveal bus subsidies in Torbay have been slashed by 75 per cent

By Herald Express  |  Posted: April 24, 2014

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BUS subsidies in Torbay have been slashed by 75 per cent, according to figures uncovered by Labour.

Freedom of information requests by Shadow Local Government Secretary Hilary Benn found bus services across shire counties and unitary authorities had seen their grants cut by an average of 23 per cent and 24 per cent respectively.

The real-term cuts are based on subsidy changes since 2010, when the coalition government was formed.

Labour found shire counties have cut their subsidies by 23 per cent from an average of £5.62million in 2010/11 to £4.34million in 2013/14, while unitary authorities have undergone cuts of 24 per cent from an average of £1.20million to £0.91million in the same period.

Labour said the biggest real terms cuts to council support for bus services took place at Conservative-run authorities.

In the south west, Torbay Council has cut the subsidy by 75 per cent, Somerset County Council by 33 per cent, Devon County Council by 21per cent, and Cornwall Council — a independent-Liberal Democrat coalition — by five per cent.

Plymouth City Council, the only Labour-run authority in the region, increased the subsidy by 26 per cent, according to the responses.

Among bus routes which could be under threat in South Devon due to a cut in subsidies is the Number 22 from Brixham to Kingswear.

Mr Benn warned vulnerable people would be left 'stranded'.

He said: "It couldn't be clearer to local residents that vital front-line services are disappearing dramatically as cuts to councils intensify."

FOI requests were sent to all 27 shire county councils and 55 unitary authorities; 23 county councils and 53 unitary authorities subsequently responded.

A government spokesman said: "We know t rural bus services are vital. That is why the right to free travel is enshrined in law and government provides funding to meet the cost of subsidising off peak travel for these groups.

"In addition, the Department for Transport provides funding to bus operators to help more services run and keep ticket prices down. The current level of this funding is protected until 2015/16."

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