Controversial Labour proposals to scrap a free public transport service for low income families in North Ayrshire were thrown out last week.

The opposition Labour group said the council should not be backing the scheme because it helped support Stagecoach, whose X34 and X36 routes in North Ayrshire are under threat.

The scheme, as part of the Economic Covid Recovery Investment Plan, cost £20,000.  It offers three months of free access to bus or rail travel.

Labour councillor Nairn McDonald led support for his party’s call-in at a meeting of the authority's audit and scrutiny committee.

He said: “Stagecoach dominates the Ayrshire bus market and the vast majority taking part in it will be travelling in Ayrshire.

“That makes it an effective subsidy to Stagecoach who made £32m in profit last year alone.”

He added that they wanted to send a clear message that while the company were cutting our community bus services, they wouldn’t be supporting them.

However SNP cabinet member Cllr Tony Gurney responded: “The travel scheme is designed to support low income households back to work with free access on all types of public transport, and also for leisure. 

“It will help with access to employment, addresses transport poverty and we hope it will build confidence in public transport.

“That will help to ensure the long-term support and provision of these services, None of the funding goes directly to Stagecoach. 

“It goes to all kinds of public transport, other bus companies and Stagecoach.

“The call-in would punish all these low-income families, stop them getting to work or accessing leisure.”

Louise Kirk, senior manager for regeneration with NAC, told the meeting: “The proposed Public Transport Scheme would directly benefit low-income households by reducing the impact of travel costs on household budgets and helping to address transport poverty.

“This will improve access to employment opportunities and sustain employment.

"It will also build confidence in the public transport network post-pandemic and support sustainable travel for everyday journeys.”

The Labour call-in was rejected by five votes to three.