‘Lifeline’ service to be scrapped in cash blow

A bus service that transports elderly and disabled people to their hospital appointments has been pulled because of funding cuts.

More than 600 people from across Chorley and South Ribble use the Red Rose Runner service every week.

Last year, the Guardian reported how the scheme had been given a reprieve by Lancashire County Council after fears it might have to withdraw its service.

But, regular users now say their worst nightmares have come true as the Red Rose Runner will stop taking bookings at the end of the month.

The move comes as County Hall bosses struggle to save £179m over the next three years.

Anita Hanning, 70, of Astley Village, suffers from breathing difficulties and arthritis and says she does not know how elderly people will cope.

She said: “I am going to have to use taxis which are far more expensive.

“I will have to think about how many times I can afford to go out as I use the service to go to the gym and also medical appointments.

“I cannot carry on doing it and there are lots of people in residential homes who need it to get to hospital.

“Unless they have got some family in the area, elderly people are going to struggle to get out.”

Mrs Hanning says she fears people may be put off going for their check-ups if they can not afford taxis and claims elderly people’s health may be out at risk as a result.

The bus service was partly-funded by Lancashire County Council while Travelcare ran the bookings for the service.

Coun Tim Ashton, cabinet member for highways and transport at Lancashire County Council, said: “The Red Rose Runner was a free service and when we reviewed it was realised that we could not afford to run it.

“Instead a £1 fee was charged to users but it still did not meet the 40 per cent threshold which we needed to run the service and we have subsequently decided to withdraw it.”