A Bath MP has written in to our letters column regarding rural bus cuts in the local area.
How much money you spend on supported bus services is a political decision.
We all know this. B&NES increased its contribution by a third to over £1m, yet this wasn’t enough to meet the excessive price agreed by our Transport Authority, the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), who demanded another £2m. However, the government had accepted that Local Authorities shouldn’t have to meet these spiralling costs from Council Tax revenues, and gifted our Transport Authority (WECA) with £57m, more than enough to cover our entire region.
So, what went wrong?
WECA Mayor Dan Norris was told he couldn’t spend the money on existing services, but it was his political decision to spend the money on a brand new Demand Responsive Transport service, ‘Westlink’, instead of regular bus services that people can plan their lives around. Only the 522 has emerged of the four promised new routes.
Now, following an intervention in the House of Commons by a Labour MP, we find that Mr Norris can spend his £57m on supported services – he only had to ask the Minister!
So, why has Mr Norris not returned the Minister’s calls?
One of our neighbouring Authorities told me how their supported services had gone up by 30%. I was stunned. 30%? How come WECA had agreed to 200%? It was also made very clear to me that for Demand Responsive Transport to work you have to clear out all the little buses that run round the villages, something our neighbouring authorities were not prepared to do.
So is it Labour Party policy to kill off our rural buses in favour of Westlink, and blame B&NES, South Glous and Bristol Council? Or is it the case that the WECA Mayor is completely out of control and fixated on his vanity project – the biggest launch of DRT in the country ever!
My ward, Bathavon South, is losing four supported services.
Westlink isn’t working. Come on Mr Norris, make the political choice to save the rural buses. You know you can. Or give us the money so that we can do it.
Cllr Matt McCabe, Bathavon South Ward