Move ‘will deter people from shopping in resort’

A  Flexity 2 tram outside the North Euston Hotel, Fleetwood.
A Flexity 2 tram outside the North Euston Hotel, Fleetwood.
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Elderly people from Cleveleys and Fleetwood could be left stranded if their free tram travel is axed, an MP warned today.

Blackpool Council is proposing to end free travel for pensioners on the trams if they do not live in Blackpool, in a bid to save £700,000 a year.

Until now non-residents have been able to ride for free as part of the OAP concessionary fares scheme.

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard has slammed the proposed move.

He said: “Many pass holders use the tram to come into Blackpool town centre for the day and now will have to pay.

“I understand that times are still tough, but cannot believe this parsimonious cut will make much difference in the scheme of things.

“I’m also concerned not many people are aware that stopping Thornton and Cleveleys residents from using the tram with their bus pass is on the cards.

“I am hopeful that during the period of consideration, Blackpool will talk to Lancashire to ensure that all bus pass holders in my constituency are able to use the trams for free.”

But Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn, said: “Mr Maynard clearly doesn’t listen as I was very clear in November of last year that this was likely to happen – thus far he hasn’t raised any objections.

“If the county council wishes to subsidise the service, it is welcome to do so.

“Back in November when we announced the many savings we would have to make we said that we could no longer affordable to offer free tram travel to all over 60s.

“In times like this we have to look at every single penny we spend and ensure it is being spent wisely. We expect this change will save £700,000. We have been made aware that Wyre residents are not happy with this change and we have been in contact with the county council.

“We are more than happy to continue the scheme for their residents if they are able to provide us with funding to do so. The taxpayers of Blackpool should not be funding the activities of people from outside of the area.”

Tony Moreton, assistant director for sustainable travel at Lancashire County Council, said: “Blackpool Council has made us aware of the proposal to end funding which currently allows card holders across the county to travel for free on Blackpool’s trams.

“We will consider our position once Blackpool Council has made its decision.

“Tram services are not part of the mandatory Concessionary Travel scheme and people should be reassured there is an alternative 20 minute bus service throughout the day between Freeport in Fleetwood and Starr Gate in Blackpool on which cards will still be eligible.”