Proposed cuts to six bus services in the Chorley area will leave the elderly and young ‘cut off and isolated’, it has been claimed.
A campaign to save the services has received support from across the political divide in condemnation of the plans by the Labour-run county council to end evening and weekend subsidies.
The council is seeking to save £3.8m over two years which would see funding withdrawn for evening and Sunday services that currently receive council subsidies to allow them to operate.
They claim cuts are needed because of an unprecedented financial challenge due to cuts in grants by central government, with the need to save £300m over the next four years. Services affected are the number two Chorley to Blackburn, the 362 Chorley to Wigan, the number 10 Chorley Interchange to Chorley Hospital via Astley Village, Euxton and Buckshaw Village, number 11 Chorley to Eaves Lane, the 109 Chorley to Preston via Euxton, Buckshaw Village, Clayton-le-Woods, and the 114 Chorley, Whittle-Woods, Preston. Borough and county councillor Mark Perks said the endangered routes, three of which pass through his constituency, provided ‘vital links for employment and leisure’.
He said: “The proposals will decimate services and have a profound impact.
“For instance in Buckshaw a huge proportion of residents, particularly younger and older people will be cut off for much of the time.
“There is an assumption that everyone who lives there has a car but that simply isn’t the case. Only the other day I was talking to some teenagers who rely on evening buses to get them to and from work.
“Not everyone works nine to five and these youngsters travel by bus to evening jobs at food outlets and supermarkets.”
Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle said: “We are beginning to see a terminal decline in the number of bus routes around Chorley.
“As Lancashire County Council provides a final list of services teetering on the edge I have called on the Department for Communities and Local Government to intervene to stop the cull.
“Chorley Council has worked tirelessly to bring about economic regeneration in the town and any reduction in services could threaten this vital growth.
“A number of companies have also approached me to express their fears over the impact on their workforces should vital links such as those through Buckshaw Village disappear.”
A county council spokesman said its focus was on maintaining services during the daytime and ensuring the county's most vulnerable people can access public transport.
He added that 80 per cent of bus services in Lancashire were run for profit by private firms.
The remaining 20 per cent are not commercially viable and are subsidised by around £8m from the county council each year.
The proposal would see subsides withdrawn from 72 evening and Sunday services from May 18.
The county council's budget will be decided at a meeting on Thursday, February 20.