Centro consults public over cuts
Leaders of the seven West Midlands district councils (Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton) have asked the region’s transport authority (Centro) to consult on a range of options aimed at saving 10% from Centro’s budget. It has already saved nearly a third of its operational expenditure over the last four years, which it claims has not impacted on frontline services for passengers. It has now been tasked with making a further £14m of savings over the next two years. It is due to hold a special meeting on 25 November, at which its members will consider the budget reduction options and be asked to give the go-ahead for a public consultation.
Options expected to be put to the public include: Children paying two thirds of the adult fare on buses instead of half, removing free local rail and tram travel for eligible people or introducing a nominal annual charge of around £30, cutting the grant given to Ring and Ride, reducing the number of taxpayer funded bus services and removing the locally funded ‘add on’ that allows eligible people to travel free on buses after 23.00. Further options to fully achieve the proposed ten per cent reduction would include completely stopping Centro funding for Ring and Ride or for child bus fare concessions. Centro Chairman, Cllr John McNicholas, said a 10% budget reduction would mean an inescapable impact on front line services because of the level of Centro expenditure required by law. Of the current £146m a year budget, over £87m 60%) is used to pay for financing charges and legally required free travel for older people, the blind and those with mobility needs.