THE leader of Worcestershire County Council has rejected claims of possible legal challenges over bus cuts from disgruntled users.
Councillor Adrian Hardman today insisted he has no fears over a judicial probe, despite campaigners insisting County Hall is failing in its legal duties.
As your Worcester News revealed on Monday, Bus Users UK says the council could be breaching the 1985 Public Transport Act by slashing a £3 million bus subsidy this September.
The cut affects 88 bus services across Worcestershire and Worcester's two park and rides at Sixways and Perdiswell, putting them at risk unless private operators agree to take them on commercially.
Coun Hardman was grilled about it during a Q&A before fellow politicians this afternoon, and said he was confident it would stand the test of time.
"We've had 8,500 responses during the consultation and following that we're determined to move on with the subsidy reduction in a measured way," he said.
"That means we will still get children to school and we will fulfil our equality and statutory duties.
"There will be a line in our budget which I believe will give us room for manoeuvre while we think about how these services can be re-designed.
"We still have lots of conversations to have with the bus companies but I can assure you there will be enough room in our budget to fulfil our core duties."
Coun Hardman was responding to questions, including one from Councillor Bob Banks, about concern on the cuts.
Talks are ongoing with operators on the threatened routes about saving some by putting up fares, reducing service frequency, or both.
Services that cannot be made fully commercial face the chop unless community groups agree to take them over.
Bus Users UK says it will increase isolation, worsen social hardship and cut people off from "essential services".
The body's deputy chief executive Stephen Morris said: "The 1985 Transport Act places a clear responsibility on local authorities to provide transport for socially necessary services.
"Withdrawing bus subsidies across the whole county would leave many villages, even a number of larger towns, with no public transport at all."