CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed plans by Fareham council to expand its concessionary travel scheme to men aged over 60.

Under the proposals men aged between 60 and 64 will be given a free bus pass entitling them to half-fare travel.

At present they have to pay the full price until they reach the retirement age of 65 - even though women of the same age enjoy half-price bus fares.

The proposals are part of a wide-ranging review of travel discounts by the council before the Age Discrimination Act becomes law in 2006.

Chris Perry, director of Age Concern Hampshire, said: "We have seen an erosion of occupational and state pensions and low interest rates affecting investments.

"Anything that is going to ease the poverty among the over-60s is a good thing.

"At the moment the law is discriminatory, treating men and women differently."

According to research by Age Concern, more elderly people are failing the medical examination taken at 75 to see whether they are fit to drive.

This has consequently led to more men and women taking public transport.

It is estimated there are 3,000 men aged between 60 and 64 living in the borough who would benefit from the changes.

In its review Fareham council is also looking at extending the "farepass" scheme to disabled people who are unable to handle money.

The current cost of the concessionary scheme is £364,600, including the operation of the "farepass" scheme and distribution of travel tokens for use on public transport.

Civic bosses estimate expanding the "farepass" scheme could incur an extra bill of £90,000.

The council's executive will decide whether to go ahead with the plans at its meeting on Monday.