A CHARITY transport group that drives the borough's pensioners and disabled around has been given devastating news just a week after it discovered Hyndburn Council was cutting its funding.
When bosses at Dial-a-Ride learned they would have to compete with other charities for their annual £7,000 they thought the situation would get no worse.
But now Lancashire County Council, which pays for two of the charity's three buses, has decided to cut £6,000 from its annual contribution.
This will mean fare increases for the group's hundreds of passengers.
Norma Farmer, Dial-a-Ride manager, said: "It's bombshell news. It's looking bleak. County council money will be cut because we were under target last year for the number of passengers we carried.
"We were supposed to have 14,000 but we had problems with vehicles breaking down so obviously the number was lower. We are battling to keep the services and will explore as many possibilities as we can for further funding. But long term, we'll have to wait and see what happens."
A review of Hyndburn Council's general fund revenue budget, presented to last week's full council meeting, states: "Remove contribution to Dial-a-Ride (we fund one of three buses), saving £7,221.''
Council leader Peter Britcliffe said community groups would now have to compete for a share of a £60,000 community chest.
He said: "We are being fair and equitable by putting £60,000 into a fund which all groups can apply for. Every organisation that is successful will be assured of funding for three years and will know exactly where they stand. I would like to support every good cause but that's not being realistic."
He added that Dial-a-Ride's bid stood a good chance of success.
But changes to the funding system were attacked by Labour deputy leader Councillor David Myles. He said: "A bidding process is like a raffle - you just hope your ticket is drawn out. This money was in the budget until a political decision was taken to get rid of it."
Dial-a-Ride user Greta Bevan, of Dill Hall Lane, Church, said: "The service is a lifeline for countless folk. Such a worthwhile service shouldn't be struggling like this for funding."