Plan to cut bus subsidies is axed by Leicester City Council
Controversial plans to cut subsidised bus travel for the elderly and some school pupils have been dropped in last-minute changes to the city council's budget plans.
Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby yesterday outlined a series of changes to his initial plans to cut council spending.
He said his rethink had been prompted by discussions with Labour councillors, as well as a public consultation.
Scrapping discretionary funding for half-fare transport for older people before 9.30am had been proposed to save an estimated £120,000 a year.
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"The saving is probably not worth making," he said. "If half the people delay their journeys until after 9.30am and travel free it will cancel it out, because we still have to reimburse the bus companies."
Sir Peter has also stepped back from ending the subsidy for some home-to-school transport.
He said the £160,000-a-year funding would continue for two years to allow those on courses to finish them.
The two moves will mean the council will save £280,000 less than its initial target for the year starting April 1.
Councillors will meet to discuss the budget tonight.
The city council's proposed homelessness strategy has been removed from the discussions because a consultation only finished on Monday.
The council had proposed cutting £2.2 million from the £6.6 million budget over two years, axing 200 hostel beds.
Sir Peter said savings would be made later, when the consultation results had been properly considered.
He said: "Since the spending squeeze started we have lost £75 million a year in Government funding and there are still very savage cuts to come."
Liberal Democrat councillor Nigel Porter said: "It's not a surprise that the mayor is dropping the pre-9.30am travel subsidy cuts. He put it in just so he could then take it out and make it look like he's listened."
Leicestershire County Council is set to finalise its budget this afternoon.
It had said it needed to save £79 million over four years but has so far earmarked about £48 million of reductions.
The Liberal Democrat opposition is set to propose a motion to put £1 million back into the highway maintenance budget for repairs and flood work.