Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting COUNTY GAZETTE to 80360 or email us
Bus pass for the over 60s
OVER 60s in Somerset can now get their hands on a free national bus Travelpass.
Free off-peak bus travel to anywhere in England has offered pensioners and disabled travellers a 'lifeline', according to the Government.
The Department of Transport said the National Travelpass scheme would give around 1.25 million people in the South-West greater freedom and access to vital services, such as hospitals and shops.
But Taunton Deane Council has claimed that taxpayers have to fork out a fifth of their council tax to pay the estimated £982,000 cost to the authority.
Council leader Cllr Ross Henley said: "I wonder how many people in Taunton Deane realise that 20% of their council tax goes towards paying for the Government's concessionary travel scheme."
West Somerset Council has budgeted for a 25% rise in costs.
Council spokesman Stacey Beaumont said: "As the national scheme is new, we don't know how widely used it will be. The council will monitor uptake over a period of time to evaluate any potential impact on taxpayers."
Taunton MP Jeremy Browne said: "I am delighted many pensioners will have greater opportunities to travel and there should also be benefits for the environment.
"My concern is the serious funding shortfall which will impact on all Taunton Deane Council taxpayers."
However, the Government said the South-West had been given an extra £21,346million to fund the scheme.