WEST Lancs bus services used by 18,500 passengers are set to be scrapped in a drastic £179m cuts programme endorsed by Lancashire County Council.
The 315 route, linking Ormskirk, Haskayne and Southport; and the number 77, linking Ormskirk and Tower Hill will be axed in the unprecedented savings plans.
County Hall bosses unveiled full details of a three-year proposal to balance its books, with the cull of services set to affect the borough’s most vulnerable.
Cuts affecting West Lancashire residents, set to be formally approved next month, include:
l Closing two bus services despite a council confession that “no alternative services are available for most passengers”. Schoolchildren will be transferred to dedicated school buses.
l Care services for residents whose needs are not seen as ‘critical’ will be removed, affecting 3,900 people.
l Similarly, non-residential care charges – such as day care, home care and meals on wheels – will increase.
l Skelmersdale children’s homes Elm House and the Willow could be closed as the county looks to close a third of its 15 kids’ care facilities.
l Confirmation that the recycling centre in Rufford will shut, saving £1m a year, plus another four sites.
l Other cuts include axing mobile libraries, scrapping grants to local arts projects, reducing street lighting and charging faith school pupils bus fares.
Swathes of public sector jobs across all council departments – including a 16% drop in library staff – will be lost as the council reduces its £725m budget by a quarter.
The county council needs to make the savings as a result of the recent local government finance settlement and existing budget pressures – such as the costs of serving an ageing population.
Conservative leader Geoff Driver said there was “no option” but to look at all areas of the council’s operation for efficiencies.
He told the Advertiser: “Where the savings do affect frontline services, in many cases they will be made possible by new and more efficient approaches.
"But there is no escaping we have to make some very tough decisions and our goal has been to ensure the proposal feels as fair as it can be in the context of having to make substantial savings.
"It's a tough financial climate for everyone.”