Plans to cut free bus passes would be ‘disastrous’

Members of Team Rise who set are to lose their bus passes in the proposed LCC cuts.
Members of Team Rise who set are to lose their bus passes in the proposed LCC cuts.

A group of adults with learning disabilities have been left devastated over plans to cut their free bus passes.

Lancashire County Council is currently in a consultation period over proposals to withdraw the passes for people with learning difficulties as part of drastic cost-cutting measures.

The council is bidding to save £65m. over the next two years as part of wider plans to plug a massing funding gap of £262m. by April 2020.

But Sharon Lees, project co-ordinator for Team Rise, which meets three times a week at St James’s House in Burnley town centre, said the cuts would be “disastrous.”

“It would be the downfall of our group. If they don’t have those bus passes, they won’t have the volunteering opportunities.

“At the moment they travel all over for volunteering, work placements and trips out and we go to Manchester a lot to go to a museum or the library so they can learn. They’ve come such a long way over the last few years and I think if they lose the bus passes it will set them back.”

Sharon said members of the group also make things which they then sell at craft fairs all over East Lancashire and beyond, all of which are accessed by bus.

She commented: “The great big push from David Cameron when he came into government was for the Big Society and for everybody to help in their communities.

“The bus passes give them that freedom that they wouldn’t otherwise have. They don’t work so they can’t afford to pay for them.”

Burnley’s MP Julie Cooper has warned services for Burnley people are being “cut to the bone” as a result of the cutbacks.

The Express revealed last week that residents across Burnley say they will be left isolated with the axe set to fall on subsidised bus routes. Sharon is also urging people to sign a petition against the proposals.

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