Legal question mark over Bristol LibDem bus cuts

Kingswood campaigners have questioned the legality of Bristol City Council’s plans to cut various bus services.

The legal concerns follow the disclosure that the Liberal Democrat administration broke its own rules with the way it consulted on its plans to cut Sunday services on the cross-boundary 5 and 7 services from the end of September.

From 24th June to 8th July, the City Council consulted on proposals to withdraw its funding of several cross-boundary services. They presented two consultation options to residents:

  • The withdrawal of Evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys on cross-boundary services 5 (City Centre to Downend) and 7 (City Centre to Staple Hill) or;
  • Reduce the Evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday frequency on services 4, 5, 6 and 7 from half-hourly to hourly.

While Option 2 was preferred by most consultees, Bristol City Council has said that the savings delivered from these service cuts would fall far short of what is required and so it is proceeding with Sunday service bus cuts.

Not only has the City Council been criticised for ignoring the majority of respondents to the consultation who favoured an alternative option, but the length of the consultation fell way short of the 12 weeks that the City Council’s own rules stipulate, which is that the minimum period allowed for responses to consultations should be twelve weeks. This reflects the advice that is also given by the Government.

Chris Skidmore, the prospective Conservative MP for Kingswood, said:

“Bristol’s Liberal Democrat administration has not only forced through deeply unpopular bus cuts, but it has also openly flouted its own consultation rules at the same time.”

“Whichever way you look at it, one to two weeks of consultation is simply not the 12 weeks that the City Council recommends for all its consultations.”

“The way that the users of these bus services have been treated by the City Council is a disgrace and an insult to those who have already had to deal with First’s bus cuts.”

Conservative councillors for Rodway – through which the 7 bus service runs – Adrian Millward, Carol McCarthy and Kevin Seager added:

“The City Council presented residents with an impossible choice – the complete withdrawal of two bus services or the dramatic reduction of four bus services – only to then ignore what the majority of people told them during their incredibly tight consultation period.”

“With the legality of the City Council’s bus cuts now in question, we are calling on Bristol’s Liberal Democrat transport chief to back down and allow much-needed Sunday bus services to continue.”

Source: Conservative Group on South Gloucestershire Council

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