Pensioners` bus perk faces chop

By Matt White

Friday, November 14, 2008

 

THE Island’s pensioners have been warned free travel on buses before 9.30am could stop due to the financial pressures on the Isle of Wight Council.

The scheme for the over 60s has been running since 2006 but is due to be reviewed in February, Cllr David Pugh told Gurnard parish councillors.

The government required the Isle of Wight Council to offer free bus travel for pensioners at off-peak times, as part of a national programme introduced two years ago.

The authority decided it could also provide free travel before 9.30am, meaning the Island’s pensioners could use the buses at any time of the day without charge.

The financial impact of the service has caused the planned review, as the council could save between £200,000 and £300,000 by cutting the pre-9.30am free travel.

The issue is set to be discussed at a consultation meeting in February, where a decision will be made on how the council’s budget will be used.

“Originally, we offered our pensioners more than the government had proposed.

“We remain in support of the free travel but with so many obligations to fund and with the present economic climate we cannot guarantee it will continue before 9.30am,” said Cllr Pugh.

Cllr Pugh welcomed Gurnard Parish Council’s involvement, along with other parish councils on the Island, in the discussions about free travel for pensioners.

Reporter: mattw@iwcpmail.co.uk

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