Fife Council has been forced to clarify its position on the future of a vital transport service which support some of the most vulnerable members of the public.
Fears have been growing among staff and the public that the Dial-a-Ride and Ring and Ride services, which many disabled and elderly people rely on as their only means of transport in the Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy, Levenmoth and Dunfermline areas, would be axed when cash strapped Fife Council decides it’s budget for the coming year.
Concerns were confirmed when the service staff were informed on December 22 that proposals had been submitted to axe both services as part of desperate measures to bridge a a ££30 million black hole in it’s forthcoming budget for 2017/18.
The move, if accepted, would have left around 50 staff unemployed and left hundreds of users without any free-to-use transportation.
However following reports about the proposals and the widespread back-lash that followed on social media, the minority Labour-led administration was keen to clarify its position and distance itself from the notion of possible cuts to the service.
“I can state categorically that the Labour administration has rejected this proposal as part of our deliberations and will not have it as part of the proposed budget,” said Glenrothes West and Kinglassie councillor Altany Craik, the administration’s executive spokesman for finance.
“This service supports our most vulnerable and will not for part of any budget put forward by the Labour group in February.
“We will not support any other groups budget that contains this saving.
“It needs to be remembered that the need for savings comes from a number of areas, demographic pressures, cuts to grants from Scottish government, rising costs and choices made in previous budgets.
“I hope this clear and unequivocal rebuttal will put people’s minds at rest on this issue.”
In the wake Fife Council having already scrapped the £2 taxi voucher scheme in March of this year, the Dial-a-Ride service, which offers free shopping service for people who have difficulty using conventional public transport, and the Ring and Ride scheme which provides a door-to-door service that users book in advance, were the only forms of mobility many users can rely on.