COUNCILLORS have demanded a meeting with transport ministers in a bid to save a popular concessionary bus scheme for pensioners and disabled people.

Sevenoaks District Council is concerned Government plans will force it to scrap its scheme which allows certain people to travel anywhere in the district for 20p.

Sevenoaks Council Labour group leader Councillor Frank Parker has asked for a meeting with Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions minister Keith Hill.

Coun Parker said: I support the Government proposal as it will undoubtedly hold large benefits for many elderly and disabled people throughout the country. Many people in our area however still prefer the 20p scheme because it is still cheaper than the Governments guaranteed minimum.

Currently, those entitled to concessions in the district must pay £12 for an annual pass and then get unlimited use of buses at the 20p flat rate.

Under the Governments proposals, the cost of the pass would be greatly reduced, possibly even free, but passengers would then have to pay half the usual bus fare every time they travelled.

In a letter sent to the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott last month, Coun Parker outlined the councils scheme and urged the Government to maintain the current situation.

The councillor said he would be happy to see the cost of the annual pass for the council scheme lowered if that was the only way of retaining it.

But he added: It is not clear whether the minister proposes the charge for the passes be dropped completely, but it would be good if they would let the two schemes be run side by side.

In his reply, Mr Hill explained the plans did not force local authorities to scrap any existing flat rate schemes.

But he added: With regard to the current flat rate scheme in Sevenoaks, it would appear an amendment will be needed.