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Bus boss blames council for services being axed

The boss of the bus company which is axing services in west Cornwall says he was forced into the decision by lack of support from Cornwall Council. Mark Howarth had told ITV West Country the council wasn't prepared to help fund the routes.

News of the cuts has been met with dismay in rural communities, with many fearing they'll be cut off. Our Cornwall correspondent Steve Hardy reports.

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Cornwall council on bus cuts

90% of the bus network in Cornwall is provided by First and Western Greyhound. We have held detailed discussions with both companies to identify how savings could be made.

One of the proposals from Western Greyhound was to withdraw all their services from the Penwith area. We have been endeavouring to work with the company to identify alternative options. If Western Greyhound does go ahead with its proposal, we will work with other operators.

We are continuing to discuss options with all the bus operators and will be inviting them to join with us in raising this issue with the Government.

– Cornwall Council

Council explains bus cuts

The Council is now facing having to make further savings of £196million by 2019. We are also facing increasing pressure on the concessionary fares budget which we are legally required to support. While we are doing our best to protect essential frontline services, it is impossible to make this level of savings without affecting some services.

– Cornwall Council

Text of notice to Western Greyhound staff

ITV News West Country has been able to get a copy of the notice to staff at Western Greyhound, which is making drastic cuts - including closing its depot in Penzance. 12 people could lose their jobs.

Most of you will have read in the press that Cornwall Council's budget is under significant pressure. We have been notified that due to budget cuts, the council will be withdrawing financial suppport for a number of services, some of which are operated by Western Greyhound.

It is with regret that I therefore advise you that Western Greyhound will no longer be operating any services in the Penzance and Hayle areas (other than the summer 547), or the 530 and 56 routes, or some lightly loaded 'tendered' journeys on some other routes.

This will therefore mean a reduction in the number of buses in the fleet and a reduction in the number of roles. This decision by Cornwall Council in no way reflects the quality of services provided.

Western Greyhound is not the only bus operator having contracts reduced and services of other operators are also affected.

A formal consultation period will begin shortly for all staff affected and we are currently working on the implications of this decision from the council to withdraw financial support for services. This will be a worrying time for you but please be assured that as a company we will do everything we can to limit the impact of such a decision on employees.

We have a strong core of commercial services and we will be actively developing these routes over the coming months.

As further information becomes available, I assure you I will be in touch to keep you updated on developments

– Mark Howarth, Managing Director, Western Greyhound

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Cornish bus cuts

ITV West Country has learned that drastic cuts are to be made in bus services in Cornwall.

One of the main bus operators, Western Greyhound, is closing its depot in Penzance, which will mean fewer routes in west Penwith.

It's understood 12 drivers will also lose their jobs.

Services provided by First Western and smaller operators are also likely to be cut.

Cornwall Council says a cut in its subsidy from the Government means it can't afford to pay the operators to run some routes.