Shropshire Star

Government awards £1.5m for bus improvements in Shropshire

A total of £1.5m has been awarded for Shropshire Council to support local bus services, an MP has been told.

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The government has confirmed 31.5m in funding for buses in the county

The funding was revealed by Local Transport Minister Richard Holden in response to a parliamentary question from North Shropshire's Liberal Democrat MP, Helen Morgan.

She had quizzed the minister on how bus services could be improved in the county.

In his reply, Mr Holden revealed that £1.5m would be on the way to Shropshire Council for bus services.

The funding comes after the Government twice rejected bids from Shropshire to improve the county’s bus routes, first under the Bus Back Better Scheme and secondly under the Levelling Up funding.

Responding to the news James Willocks, passenger transport manager at Shropshire Council, said: “Any additional Government funding for public transport is to be welcomed. Once we receive a formal offer from the DfT we’ll have a better understanding of how the money can be spent and will be able to say more then.”

Speaking after the announcement Mrs Morgan said: “This is a welcome step in the right direction and comes after a long campaign to improve bus services in Shropshire.

“Buses connect patients with hospitals, shoppers with high streets and villages with town centres. I have campaigned hard for better bus links because investing in buses boosts the economy, education and health.

“However, services in Shropshire have got even worse in recent months. This money must now be used to arrest the decline and improve bus links in places that need it most like Market Drayton and rural North Shropshire.”

Mrs Morgan had stood up in the Commons to highlight how cuts to bus services in Shropshire have come about partly due to the low concessions paid to bus operators by Shropshire Council.

She had said: "I welcome the minister's statement today, and particularly his acknowledgement that in rural areas bus services are an essential lifeline for those people that don't have access to a car. Unfortunately, in North Shropshire over the last 18 months, we've seen bus services cut at the beginning and end of the day and in frequency. And part of the reason for that is the low amounts that are paid by Shropshire Council for concessionary fares.

"So I wonder if the minister would be able to outline how local councils can be supported to increase that level of concessionary fare so that it's more evenly allocated across England. And also if he'd be able to outline in detail to me how my constituents will see an improvement in their bus service rather than a further deterioration."

In reply the minister said: "Well, I must say I visited the Honourable Lady's constituency just before she was an MP and I'm sure I'll be doing so again. The £2 bus fare is operating right across the country.

"On top of that, we do have concessionary fares for people who are retired and also for people who are disabled as well. So those are there across the piece.

"In terms of bus operators, bus operators will be getting significantly more money in Shropshire and because Shropshire Council didn't get the initial round of BSIP funding, I'll be delighted to let her know today that they will be getting one and a half million pounds to support local bus services, which I hope she will use her offices to ensure that is spent on local people to offer the services they deserve.”