Vale council leader says cutting rural bus services is too drastic an option so council tax is ticked up a notch
By Ted Peskett - Local Democracy Reporter
11th Feb 2024 | Local News
The leader of Vale of Glamorgan Council said keeping rural bus services alive has caused council tax to rise.
Councillor Lis Burnett was speaking at a council scrutiny committee meeting when she said council tax was originally proposed to rise by 5.9% in the Vale of Glamorgan.
However, after it received its provisional settlement from the Welsh Government, it announced in January that it will look to increase council tax by 6.7%.
Cllr Burnett said a proposed reduction of £470,000 to support non-commercial bus routes was considered to be unacceptable by her fellow cabinet members when they started looking at budget proposals for 2024-25.
She said: "That was a saving we could just not do. It was a saving which would have meant that people in the rural Vale would not have had any bus services going forward.
"That is why the proposed council tax has gone up from the 5.9% that we originally said and if there are any others then those are decision we have to make."
The move contributes 0.5% to the proposed 6.7% council tax increase.
The council leader said earlier in the meeting: "We keep talking about difficult decisions, well actually they are impossible decisions that we are having to make because of the amount of money that we have lost in the last 14 years.
"We will make our best effort at having minimum impact from those cuts."
First Cymru will run the 303 service from Llantwit Major to Bridgend, the 304 service between Llantwit Major and Cardiff; and the 320, which travels through Hensol, Pendoylan and Peterson-Super- Ely on its route between Talbot Green and Cardiff.
It will also operate the 321 between Llantwit Major and Talbot Green, and the X2, which stops at various points along the A48 on its route from Porthcawl to Cardiff.
Conservative ward member for Llandow, Councillor Christine Cave told Cllr Burnett that if residents in her ward had heard the comments made about rural bus services they would "probably fall about laughing".
"Because we don't have a bus service to speak of in the rural Vale in the village where I am here in Llandow," she added.
"I don't know what services she thinks are being made there because there isn't actually a service in the rural Vale."
Cllr Burnett challenged Cllr Cave's "inflammatory comments", responding: "There is the 303, 304… there is the X2. In rural communities, keeping bus services such as that… are incredibly expensive.
"It might be that they don't get a three times an hour service… but those services are still essential.
"If we want to put millions into… bus services that is fine, but each million costs an extra percentage in council tax."
In its announcement about preserving bus services, the Vale of Glamorgan Council added Adventure Travel will be responsible for the 88, 100 and B3 services, which run between Penarth and Barry, Barry and Colcot, and within Barry, respectively.
Service 93, travelling from Cardiff to Barry; 305, connecting Cardiff to Dinas Powys; and the B1 and B2, operating around Barry and Barry Island, will be operated by Cardiff Bus.
Bus services will mostly operate in line with current schedules, but there may be some minor changes to journeys after March 31.
Saturday timetables will mirror weekday schedules for services 93, B1 and B2, boosting the service offered on this day.
A local bus service will be restored for the Bendricks and the number of services that use the Barry Docks Transport Interchange will be increased.
The 94 and 96 evening services remain unchanged, while service 7 is being tendered by Cardiff Council and its future will be determined by Cardiff Council in due course.