COUNCILLORS are calling for Cheshire East’s bus service to be improved – less than two years after council chiefs swung the axe on some subsidised routes.

Cheshire East Council stopped funding evening subsidised bus services and some weekend services from April 2018 in a move that saved the authority £1 million.

But with the council keen to become carbon neutral by 2025, and with the borough’s population on the rise, members from across the political divide want to see a better bus service.

The comments came at a scrutiny meeting where CEC’s parking review was discussed – a piece of work that will take place next year and is expected to rake in an extra £1.5 million of income by 2021-22.

Cllr Tony Dean, Conservative member for Knutsford, said: “Car parking is umbilically connected to how good the bus service is.

Winsford Guardian:

“I think if we had a good bus service the car parking would eventually – not immediately – but would eventually go away.

“My concern about this budget so far is that I don’t see anything transformative in terms of the bus service, and that’s what we need.”

CEC expects to have 36,000 new homes by 2030 when its local plan will have been delivered – but housebuilding across the borough is ahead of schedule.

Cllr June Buckley, Liberal Democrat member for Alsager, said: “I was late walking into this meeting today because it took me 10 minutes to park.

Winsford Guardian:

“I’m finding increasingly – in the towns in the south of the borough – that because we have all these new houses they are beginning to be filled up with new residents.

“The car park in Alsager is quite often full, lots of car parks are getting full and we need a better bus service.

“I know this is going to cost money but if we want to be environmentally friendly, getting the cars off the road, that’s the way to go – we have got to do something.”

Cllr Mike Hunter, Labour member for Middlewich, added: “We in this council are forced to make massive new estates on the outskirts of towns because there is no room within the town.

Winsford Guardian:

“There is no provision for them to get into town unless they are in the car, and it’s the same for schools, it’s the same for everything.

“In Middlewich we used to have the hopper that was well used, and it was cut.”

But Cllr Suzanne Brookfield, Labour member for Crewe East, urged the committee to remember that the previous Conservative administration had cut the subsidised bus budget.

She said: “Last year’s budget and the one previous to that saw substantial changes – cuts to our subsidised bus services.

Winsford Guardian:

“Now we are sitting round this table asking for them to be reimplemented – if we could all just remember that please.”

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Residents can have their say on CEC’s draft budget for 2020-21 until January 6, 2020, by visiting cheshireeast.gov.uk/budget