Fears over future of young person's card

FEARS have been raised that a specially-designed card that offers youngsters discounted travel across Suffolk could be axed - just four months after it was introduced.

FEARS have been raised that a specially-designed card that offers youngsters discounted travel across Suffolk could be axed - just four months after it was introduced.

Leading Liberal Democrat councillors voiced their concerns after learning that the newly-elected Conservative administration at Suffolk County Council is set to recommend a review of the card's future at a cabinet meeting next week .

The Xcape card was introduced in February this year and offers half price travel on all trains and buses in the county to youngsters in Suffolk under the age of 20.

However, in May the county council received a legal challenge from the operators of Xscape snowdome in Milton Keynes warning the name used could cause confusion, and claiming they had copyright on it.


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Now, transport spokesman for the Liberal Democrats David Wood is concerned that the issue will be used as an excuse to get rid of the card completely.

He said: "I am extremely worried that the problems over branding of the young people's travel card will be used as an excuse to withdraw the card.

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"Conservatives are borrowing an extra £3m to repair more roads, but are reviewing whether they spend less than £2m a year on the extremely popular Xcape card."

Fellow county councillor Inga Lockington, who is also the portfolio holder for transport at Ipswich Borough, added: "Surveys across Suffolk clearly show that people want more facilities for young people.

"The discount travel card has been very popular with young people themselves, and has given them discounts in shops as well as on buses and trains.

"It would be a great shame if it were withdrawn after only a few months in operation. We are keen that young people get into the habit of using public transport, and we need to continue to promote the use of the card."

However council leader Jeremy Pembroke assured that there were no immediate plans to withdraw the card and that no decision would be made until there had been a full review.

"The Xcape card was set up by the last administration and unfortunately it looks like they didn't do their homework properly because we are now facing a legal challenge over the brand name," he added.

"It looks like it could cost us £100,000 to pull it and reissue a new card, which I'm quite cross about because it's a complete waste of the taxpayers money.

"As for the future of the card there are no immediate plans to get rid of it because we simply do not have enough information to make a mature decision. We have to wait until nearer the end of the year in September before we can make a judgement."

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