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£58m government funding bid to help boost bus services across Leicestershire rejected



A £58m bid for government cash to help boost bus services across Leicestershire has been rejected.

Leicestershire County Council applied for the funding to improve services and secure the future of subsidised routes serving rural areas.

Ozzy O’Shea, from the authority, said he was disappointed that Leicestershire had been “overlooked”.

The Department of Transport (DfT) said areas “not showing sufficient ambition would not be funded”.

Thirty-one counties, city regions and unitary authorities have been chosen for funding to level up their local bus services in the latest awards from the bus transformation programme.

The government has offered nearly £7bn for councils to make buses more frequent, more reliable, easier to understand and use, cheaper, or greener.

‘Not taking this lying down’

Mr O’Shea, cabinet lead for highways and transport, said the authority’s Bus Service Improvement Plan was a “very strong one in helping communities, particularly in rural areas”.

“We’re really disappointed that Leicestershire has again been overlooked in a bid for government transport funding.

“The government knows we’ve had a pandemic on. They have been supporting bus services and they have extended it for a few more months, but that money is drying up.

“We’re not taking this lying down and have already raised this with local MPs and asked the Department of Transport to explain why our bid was turned down.

“Once we get that feedback, we’ll consider our next move.”

A spokesperson for the DfT said: “The successful areas have been chosen because of their ambition to repeat the success achieved in London – which drove up bus usage and made the bus a natural choice for everyone, not just those without cars.

“As the government stated in last year’s national bus strategy, Bus Back Better, areas not showing sufficient ambition, including for improvements to bus priority, would not be funded.”

Original source article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-61180656

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