Stoke & Staffordshire

A group of over 60s call for rethink on bus pass policy

A group of over 60s have protested in Stoke-on-Trent calling for the return of free bus travel before 09:30 BST.

The city council announced in February that it was withdrawing the concession.

About 50 older people presented a statement to the council on Monday asking them to reverse that decision in their next budget.

The council said it was "no longer affordable" and all it had done was bring concessionary fares in line with the national scheme.

'Erosion of benefit'

Monday's protest was organised by the North Staffordshire Pensioners' Convention.

Members took the bus from Hanley Town Hall to the Civic Centre to meet the council's cabinet member responsible for transport.

Spokesman Andy Day said: "Many older people are volunteers and have to get to a place of work before 09:30 BST, a lot of people help children get to school and have medical appointments before then.

"Free travel has improved the lives of older people immensely and this is an erosion of that benefit."

The council said they decided to go beyond the national scheme and offer free travel 24 hours a day, seven days a week out of its own funds, but this was "no longer affordable within the budgets available to us".

Councillor Ruth Rosenau, cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transportation added: "We recognise and acknowledge the protest about changes that have taken place in Stoke-on-Trent but the council has simply brought concessionary fares back in-line with the national mandatory scheme funded by central government."

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