WE hear a lot about the increasing number of elderly people and how important it is to for them to be able to keep active, to get out and about to activities as well as just to do the shopping and meet friends. For some this is relatively easy; for others with mobility problems, the Dial-a-Ride bus is a lifeline.

Last year there were two minibuses serving the city of Oxford – this year there is only one.

The demand much exceeds the capacity of just one bus, in fact it even exceeded the capacity of two. Last year the Labour-run city council funded the second bus – this year it is refusing to fund a second bus, even though the cost has come down, because the county council is providing the service instead of a private contractor. Labour claim the county council should pay – the reasoning is obscure – even though they are providing one bus for free to the city already.

What makes this particularly mean is that the city council is proposing to put the £500,000 revenue surplus from last year’s accounts into a capital reserve, on top of the unexpected Government ‘New Homes Bonus’ grant of about another £500,000. How can they then claim that they cannot afford £58,000 to provide that much-needed second bus?

Instead of doing the decent thing and funding the bus, the Labour administration is squirreling the whole ‘underspend’ away in a reserve capital fund. It looks as if it is more important to Labour to blame the county council – regardless of the facts – than to do their best to provide for the transport needs of elderly and disabled people in the city.

JEAN FOOKS, Leader, Liberal Democrat group, Oxford City Council , St Bernard’s Road, Oxford