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More than 2,800 people have their say on plans to axe financial support to bus services and ferry routes
MORE than 2,800 people have had their say on plans to axe financial support to dozens of bus services and historic ferry routes.
County transport bosses have been seeking views on plans to slash funding by £1.5m.
This could also see Sunday and evening services vanish in many places and pensioners’ bus passes rendered useless before 9.30am.
Some buses could be replaced with taxi shares, and the centuries-old Hythe Ferry, which links the Waterside community with Southampton, is also facing an uncertain future because the £55,000 handout it relies on is also up for review.
The county council says the consultation, which finishes tomorrow, has been effectively carried out.
But it has come under fire for not publicising the consultation widely enough, except on the Internet.
Elizabeth King, 83, a retired civil servant, from St Cross, Winchester, said: “This consultation has been going on since March 5 but most people I have spoken to know nothing about it.
“So many bus users do not access the Internet. There has been nothing on the buses, no leaflets.
“It is a farce if you are talking about a consultation but not consulting.”
Currently Hampshire spends £4.7 million on supporting buses and ferries, with a further £1 million spent on community transport services.
Criticism The county supports 200 services, accounting for 28 per cent of bus journeys, the other 72 per cent being made on services which do not receive a subsidy.
Campaigners fear that vulnerable people, young people and those living in the countryside could be cut off if services are axed.
Hythe Ferry Users’ Group said it feared for the long-term future of the historic ferry route over Southamp-ton Water if the plug is pulled.
Responding to the criticism over poor consultation, county council leader Roy Perry insisted that there had been enough publicity to take part either online, or by phoning or emailing to request a form, which can then be posted back or returned to a local library.
He said: “Around 5,000 forms have been distributed to libraries, village shops, post offices, bus operators and bus stations, and handed out on buses during many of the journeys the council currently subsidises.
“There are posters on buses which feature the phone number and address for people to contact, as well as the website address and a QR code, should residents wish to contact us.”
The subsidy cutbacks come after the authority recently rubberstamped £93m of cuts which are due to be delivered by May 2015 and could see more than 1,000 jobs lost.
A decision on what will be cut will be made in the autumn.
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