LANCASHIRE County Council has admitted its U-turn over bus station charges forced by a threatened boycott by Accrington operators will cost £1.5million.

The climbdown over attempts to charge firms £1.50 for every journey instead of 75p will now last until March 31 next year.

It affects the £6.4million bus station in Accrington and its Nelson, Chorley and Preston counterparts.

County Council Tory group leader, County Cllr Geoff Driver, has accused the authority's Labour leaders of a 'major misjudgement' over the proposed higher charge on bus companies.

He said council tax payers across the county would now have to pay extra for the mistake.

Lancashire county council finance boss, County Cllr David Borrow, and his cabinet colleague for transport County Cllr John Fillis replied that they had made 'a sensible compromise' but remained committed to making the bus station's self-financing in the long-term.

The issue first surfaced in February 2016 when the main operators in Hyndburn warned they would boycott the new Accrington bus station when it opened if the county went ahead and increased the movement charge.

Many feared the new charges would lead to the development becoming a multi-million pound 'white elephant'.

In May the authority climbed down and reinstated the 75p charge.

In a report published today, County Cllr Fillis admits: "Following consultation with bus operators they have indicated that the planned raising of charges will have a very serious effect on their ability to sustain bus services operating through bus stations."

He reveals that by March 31, 2018 this will cost the county council almost £1.5million.

This comprises £283,000 for Accrington, £283,500 for Nelson, £308,700 for Chorley and £616,700 for Preston.

The shortfall will be made up from the government's Bus Service Operators Grant which runs out in March 2018.

County Cllr Fillis said: "This is a sensible compromise working with operators for the benefit of passengers."

County Cllr Driver said: "This was a major misjudgement by the county's Labour leadership leaving council tax payers across Lancashire having to pay extra to find the £1.5million.

"We warned them at the time increasing the charge would be resisted by bus operators but they ignored us.

"They claim to be in financial crisis but this sort of mistake is why."

County Cllr Borrow said: "We still want to move to self-financing bus stations but this is a sensible compromise made in the interim after talking with the bus operators."

Blackburn with Darwen Council is charging bus operators 60p per journey to use the new Blackburn Bus Station.