Financial sweeteners focused on county councils have prompted some authorities to reverse planned cuts to transport spending.
Following pressure from Conservative MPs, the local government finance settlement provided up to £416m extra government funding over two years, including £300m in transitional support.
The Rural Services Delivery Grant was boosted by an extra £90m over two years. The County Councils Network said £292m of the additional funding went to its members.
Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson
The distribution of extra funds to mainly Tory councils was described by Liverpool’s elected mayor Joe Anderson as ‘brazen financial gerrymandering’.
Writing for the New Statesman, he said: ‘It’s enough to make Robert Mugabe wince.’
Transport Network has previously reported that Lincolnshire CC scrapped plans to cut bus funding and reduce winter gritting services, after receiving an extra funding of £5.2m for 2016-17 and £2.6m for 2017-18.
Cambridgeshire CC also reversed cuts to community transport and road maintenance after receiving an extra £3.2m over two years.
Other councils, such as Cornwall, had already said that they would use reserves to protect spending.
Oxfordshire CC had not said whether it would use any of an additional £9m to reverse cuts of £3.7m to subsidised bus services but had scrapped cuts to community transport.
The county, in which prime minister David Cameron has his constituency, was highlighted in a recent report on cuts to bus funding by Campaign for Better Transport.
CBT head of campaigns, James MacColl, told Transport Network: ‘While we hope more councils use this funding to preserve bus services, it is only a temporary measure which needs to be backed up by a permanent settlement which ensures decent public transport is available to all.’