PENSIONERS' concessionary park and ride fares have escaped a city council recovery package drawn up to deal with a £1m plus black hole.
The issue first arose at a meeting of the Tory controlled Town Hall Executive which heard there will be a £184,000 shortfall in the parking budget, partly as a result of the Free after Three initiative, hailed as an "unparalleled success".
Warning that the overall city council budget already faced a shortfall of up to £700,000 - now known to have risen to £1.1m - by the end of the financial year, resources chief Cllr Adrian Walmsley (Con, Newton St Michael's) said: "We will have to look at measures to reduce expenditure or increase revenue.
"Concessionary fares are costing the council a huge amount of money."
He said the council would have to look at where savings could be made and this would include concessionary fares.
Executive member for customer services, Cllr Stephen Mosley (Con, Handbridge & St Mary's), who is also the Tories' deputy leader and prospective parliamentary candidate for the city, said:"It will result in a shortfall in the budget.
"We do not have firm proposals at the moment to balance the budget but I would not like anyone to think this is free."
It was later revealed that the rescue package which has been drawn up to meet the calculated shortfall in the town hall coffers does not include any withdrawal of concessionary park and ride fares.
The decision emerged following a question to Cllr Walmsley by Kelsall City Cllr Hugo Deynem (Con) at a meeting of the full council.
He asked if concessionary fares for senior citizens would be withdrawn as part of the plan to deliver a balanced budget.
"Concessionary fares on park and ride are costing a lot of money," repeated Cllr Walmsley before adding:"We have given the matter careful consideration and there are no proposals to remove concessionary fares.
"They will stay."