Bus border skirmishes

PUBLISHED: 12:25 17 February 2006 | UPDATED: 21:42 28 May 2010

THE over-sixties and disabled people in the Fens will be able to get to Bedford, Newmarket, Royston or Saffron Walden cheaper than to King s Lynn. That will be one effect of authorities in Norfolk not allowing those with discount travel cards to cross th

THE over-sixties and disabled people in the Fens will be able to get to Bedford, Newmarket, Royston or Saffron Walden cheaper than to King's Lynn.

That will be one effect of authorities in Norfolk not allowing those with discount travel cards to cross the border.

However, many other towns will allow passengers to use their bus passes even if they are outside of Cambridgeshire, Fenland councillors were told.

A revised scheme, due to be introduced from April 1, came under scrutiny during a cabinet debate at Fenland Hall.

Councillor Mac Cotterell described the Cambridgeshire scheme, which will give cheap travel after 9.30am on weekdays and all day at weekends, as generally very good.

But he was concerned about cross-border travel, and said that "was no good at all" to people in Christchurch, for example, who wanted to get to Downham Market.

The same might happen for those from villages north of Wisbech hoping to travel into Lincolnshire.

"Quite honestly, the rural areas are not getting such a good deal as those living in or close to towns," he said. "I would like to see some sort of cross-boundary discussion."

Mark Saunders, the council's chief accountant, said the scheme had been drawn up at the Government's insistence, and they had made £350million available to local authorities to assist it.

He said talks had been going on until quite recently to ensure agreement was reached with bus operators.

Councillor Jack Bantoft, deputy leader of the Labour Group on King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council, claimed the district council was using some of the Government subsidy to keep down Council Tax.

"The Government has given West Norfolk Council nearly £1million to support a bus concessionary fare scheme. It's an act of highway robbery to divert any of this funding away from the elderly simply to satisfy their mad economic strategy," he said.

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