Wednesday, 26 January 2011
How Eric Pickles puts a squeeze on buses
[picture thanks to politics.co.uk via Mabinogogiblog ]
A copy of 'In Touch' drops through the letterbox. This one turns out to be seriously out of touch. Apart from the routine photos of glum councillors, it leads me optimistically to their website, wondering if our Stockwood councillors have at last launched some kind of an online dialogue with their constituents.
Sadly, No. The link takes me to the Bristol and South Glos Conservative website. Click on 'News' for the very latest - and there's a South Glos Tories' press release complaining at the "absolutely outrageous" Govt cut in bus subsidy.
But the Govt is a Labour government, and the date is February of last year. There's been no news since then. Still, it remains topical.
The bus subsidy is again being cut. One pledge this 'greenest government ever' is keeping is to protect the concessionary bus pass scheme introduced by Labour. Meaning it's making the same demands of councils and bus companies, but cutting the funding.
The impact is inevitable, and it will affect passengers of all ages. Councils, faced with less money and more costs across all their services, are having to cut the payment they make to the bus companies for every concessionary journey. Bus company income drops, and some journeys no longer generate the revenue to cover costs. Result - service withdrawn. It's already happening in South Glos, where the payment is to drop from 97p to 82p - about 15%.
Expect a wave of bus service withdrawals. But don't expect the Tories to make much of a fuss.