Travel schemes at risk of council cuts

Councillor Tony Martin

Councillor Tony Martin

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SCHOOL bus services and concessionary travel schemes are at risk of cuts as Fife Council’s transport department looks to balance next year’s books.

The warning came from leading councillor Tony Martin ahead of February’s budget amid continuing pressure on public sector finances.

With the council expecting to have to make savings of £90 million by 2015, Councillor Martin — who chairs the environment, enterprise and transportation committee — said: “The challenge for us now is to make sure we continue to deliver quality services to Fifers within today’s financial constraints.

“Doing nothing is not an option — we have to change and reform.”

SUBSIDISED

The council says it could save £1 million by providing free transport to pupils who live more than three miles from their high school — the statutory requirement — rather than the current two miles.

Savings could also be made by increasing parking charges and curtailing the subsidised bus network.

In one extreme case, the council is paying £25 per passenger to keep a bus route running.

Councillor Martin said: “In an ideal world we wouldn’t be considering any of these options, but we have to look at all of them if we are to continue to invest in our area’s transport needs.”

The local authority has been keen to point out the scale of its investment in the transport infrastructure.

COMBAT

That includes £45 million in Fife’s roads and bridges over 10 years and an 11-year, £40 million street lighting improvement scheme.

This year also saw the Kingdom’s salt stocks doubled to combat the winter weather.

Councillor Martin concluded: “It’s only going to be through change and innovation that we will be able to afford the huge task of keeping Fife’s bridges, sea defences, roads, street lights and all the other infrastructure in a fit state now and in the future.

“This is not going to get any easier — it’s only going to get more challenging as budgets get tighter and it’s important that people understand the kind of choices and decisions that are in front of us.”