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Monday, 4 January 2016

Paying for Free Bus Passes? You must be joking...

Happy New Year to all my readers and your friends and families!

Labour and Tory councillors from Southampton and Hampshire have "agreed" that pensioners paying for free bus passes is a good idea. This follows the disastrous decision by the Labour Council, slipped in under the radar during budget cuts, to cut disabled bus passes - much to local people's dismay - and that of Unite Community.

I'm not joking about this! It just isn't funny.

Yes, minutes of the Council scrutiny meeting show (quoted below) that the current Labour Leader of Southampton City Council Councillor Letts* and Leader of the Conservative Group Councillor Moulton think that free bus passes should actually not mean free travel! When I asked them, the Southampton Labour Group of councillors confirmed they know about the proposal. Yet they have not stopped it! 

* (He whom I have regularly publicly criticised, following my rejection last May of his offer for me to join his failing Cabinet of cuts. I chose in favour of standing up for the people of Redbridge against this Council's cuts.)

"The Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee expressed support for outline proposals relating to the pensioner bus pass scheme, discussed at the meeting, where potentially a nominal charge might be introduced to enhance the sustainability of services."

Here is further evidence of their bonkers bus buffoonery, quoted from p.29 of the Devolution Prospectus for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, a mostly vague document that apparently has been fully signed-up-to by leaders of councils across the area:

"... A recent Hampshire County Council consultation on bus subsidy reductions indicated that concessionary passholders would potentially be happy to contribute to the cost of their journeys if that directly supported wider availability of bus services that they could use.
What HIOW will do - Establish a new local bus fund hypothecated to supporting socially necessary bus services, with emphasis on evening, weekend and weekday access in areas where the commercial service is very limited.
What we ask in return - Localise the national Concessionary Fares scheme in HIOW to support a new fund for wider bus service subsidies in areas where the commercial service is very limited."
Let me know what you think of this idea!

At the Extraordinary Council Meeting just before Christmas, I voted against the current plans for English devolution - and for those currently involved to continue to negotiate on "our" behalves.

This form of Tory Devolution, that Labour are going along with, is just wrong. They need to start again with the public properly involved. Surveys have shown that the public are not aware, or do not care, about devolution. But decisions are being taken in their name, without their permission.

This crazy proposal for bus passes shows how out-of-touch these "leaders" are, and how much they've got it wrong. 

I hear that even the Minister Greg Clark is unimpressed by the Hampshire proposals, and has asked for them to be improved!

It also shows that the people of Southampton deserve better councillors - in contrast to asleep-at-the-wheel Southampton Labour councillors, the Basingstoke Labour councillors don't support the bus pass idea. You can see them say it on Youtube here. In Southampton, these failing Labour councillors must be voted out in this May's local elections.

Andrew.

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