South Gloucestershire Council’s Conservative transport chief is urging residents to petition the Prime Minister to drop government plans to slash the district’s bus budget by £340,000.
The funding cut is proposed as part of plans announced by the Department for Transport (DfT) at the end of 2009 to change the distribution of funding for the national concessionary travel scheme for the 2010/11 financial year.
At £340k, this would be the biggest loss for any council outside London.
The cut was unexpected as 2010/11 is only the third year of 3 year funding deal that was designed to provide certainty for councils.
The national concessionary travel scheme, which provides free off-peak bus travel for older residents, should be government-funded, however South Gloucestershire Council already has to use £1.1m of local money to support the scheme.
A further £340k cut in central funding would take the annual shortfall up to nearly £1.5m.
The DfT’s formal consultation ended on 30 December, but residents are being urged to keep the pressure up by signing a Downing Street petition set up by Chris Skidmore, the prospective Conservative MP for Kingswood.
Residents are also being asked to write to the Prime Minister and Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary.
Cllr Brian Allinson, South Gloucestershire’s Conservative transport said:
“Ministers have consistently failed to provide an acceptable justification for ripping up a 3 year funding deal in its third year and treating South Gloucestershire so harshly.
It’s not even as if this funding cut is going towards paying off the soaring national debt – the government is simply taking £340K away from one of the lowest funded councils in the country and giving it to someone else.
Robbing Peter to pay Paul in this way is hugely unfair.”
“Even though the Government has now closed its formal consultation, we need local people to keep the pressure up on Ministers and to strengthen the council’s robust consultation response opposing these plans.
Chris Skidmore’s Downing Street petition is welcome and I urge residents to not only add their names to it, but also write separately to the Prime Minister and Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, so we can demonstrate the strength of local feeling there is on this important issue.”
More info: Sign the bus cuts petition (number10.gov.uk)
Source: Conservative Group on South Gloucestershire Council