WITH more than 91,000 pensioners a year from Poole and Bournemouth enjoying half-price coach travel, a fight is underway to keep the concession.

The government intends to withdraw from the Coach Concessionary Travel Scheme, which provides cut-price travel for over 60s and disabled people within England and Wales.

Half-price, off-peak travel and a 30 per cent reduction in fares at peak travel are at risk for millions of older people with the withdrawal of the fuel duty rebate.

Poole’s Older Persons Champion, Cllr Charles Meachin, presented a petition to Borough of Poole from Poole and District Pensioners Association.

Secretary Ruth McCullough, whose members collected hundreds of names in two weeks, said: “An awful lot of people my age use it to go and visit our families. Train prices have gone sky high.”

She added: “We were also a bit concerned this was going to be the thin end of the wedge. The coach concession this year and next year the bus pass.”

Poole council agreed to lobby government to reconsider its decision. The national scheme is used by three million passengers and costs £17.5 million a year.

“I feel that the removal of this concession will have a great impact on both those over 60 and disabled people,” said Cllr Meachin.

“The impact of the removal of the scheme will be far reaching, both in terms of local tourism, access to those services for family visits and any increase in ticket price will restrict the ability of those over 60 and disabled people to travel and do little to reduce the government’s budget deficit,” he said.

All three Poole MPs have been lobbied about the issue. There is an online petition at epetitions.direct.