Coalville in danger of losing bus route as part of County Council cuts - leaving some villages with no service at all
By Hannah Richardson
18th Jul 2022 | Local News
A bus route between Hinckley and Coalville is among those at risk of losing council funding needed to keep it running.
The 159 service between the two towns is currently subsidised by Leicestershire County Council to the tune of £162,260 a year.
Roberts Travel Group operates the route with buses running hourly in peak hours - and 90 minutes off peak.
Despite local opposition councillors saying the route is a vital local service – for some villages along the route, the only service they have – the county's lead for transport, Councillor Ozzy O'Shea has said it cannot be ruled out when it comes to determining which services must be cut.
The county has previously said it is facing a 'grim' financial picture due to inflation and the impact of international stressors on the UK's economy.
Millions of pounds worth of saving now need to be identified and services such as business support, highways maintenance, waste services, and buses are all on the line.
Councillor O'Shea said: "The stark reality of the financial situation facing councils is that we will need to look at new savings proposals. And every service will have to be in the mix, including popular services."
However, the leader of the opposition on the county council has warned this is not the right time to be cutting bus provision.
He said: "Due to the county council being so poorly funded by this Conservative government, the Conservative leadership at the county council has made it clear that subsidised bus services could soon cease to have support from Leicestershire County Council.
"This means services like the 159 could be stopped.
"At a time when people are struggling to fill their cars with petrol due to rocketing fuel prices we should not be removing public transport alternatives. Also at a time when the climate emergency is such a key issue we need to be supporting public transport not reducing it."
Coun O'Shea added the council has contacted local MPs to discuss its current financial position.
"We're meeting local MPs to clearly set out how grim the picture is and stress how losing out on Government cash to bolster our bus network has hampered efforts to support the industry," he said.
"We do an excellent job within the finite resources that we have – but they have to be used and properly funded, and this has to mean a better more sustainable funding deal from Government."
The council had hoped to receive a £50 million boost to its transport finances as part of its County Deal bid.
However, this money is no longer on the table as it would have required the county, city and possibly Rutland unite under the authority of an elected mayor for them all.
Leicester's mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, was accused of blocking this. He has previously called the idea the daftest he had heard in a long time.
Subsidised bus routes across the county as a whole currently cost Leicestershire council around £1.66 million a year.
The council needs to find around £70 million of savings more than those identified in its budget in February in order to balance the books over the next four years.