Where’s the community car cash? asks councillor

A COUNTY councillor fighting to save rural transport links in the face of 100 per cent bus subsidy cuts says nearly �50,000 earmarked for new community car schemes has been retained “for other projects”.

Councillor Susan van de Ven has been working with local community transport schemes and says she is appalled at Cambridgeshire County Council.

The authority was awarded �4 million for reaching targets, and Cllr van de Ven says a number of civic projects, including the Care Network, were due to receive cash to run projects similar to ‘dial a ride’ services to help the county’s vulnerable people.

She said: “Whether you are on the giving or receiving end, you will know that these schemes are part of the fabric that holds our village communities together.

“Of course, this is exactly what we are told the ‘Big Society’ is all about – something the county council apparently supports.

“But in an alarming twist, government funding earmarked for Care Network projects is being retained by the county council for other projects

“This includes �49,500 for community car schemes — ironically, at a time when the county council has made a 100 per cent cut to bus subsidies and has suggested that community transport schemes should take up the slack. Such contradictions are difficult to understand.”

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The representative for Foxton, Shepreth, Heydon, The Chishills, Melbourn and Meldreth, says the bus cuts would see the 139 – which serves Sawston, Foxton and Royston – and 21 other services axed.

And she claims the authority is also withholding money from other sources.

“I was told when they cut bus subsidies the total amount saved was �2.7m and they said they would put �1m into community transport over five years across five Cambridgeshire districts.

“Where’s the money? We’re still waiting for the money, and seven months have gone by.”

Councillor van de Ven and county colleagues say they will use their call-in right to have reviewed the decision to use the money in other ways .

Cambridgeshire County Council denies the claim the money was earmarked for The Care Network, and a spokesman said the Local Public Service Agreement capital had been put into other projects, including the planned super broadband for the county.

He said: “There were targets, but the council, and fire and police services, all agreed that the money should go for the broadband. That would benefit communities and vulnerable people, and about half a million would still go to community transport.

“Councils across the entire county, and health, fire and police services all agreed to this, apart from one council.”

The authority that refused was Cambridge City Council.

CCC’s bus cuts will save the authority a predicted �160.6m and the authority is currently consulting on the cuts.

Anyone who wants to give their views should log on to www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/transport/around/buses/busconsultation.htm