Tories offer £1.7m to stop bus service cuts


Published:
12:21 28 September 2022



Updated:
17:19 September 28, 2022

The Cambridgeshire Conservatives will offer a solution as well as £1.7million to end unfair cuts to bus services.

At a recent summit on the bus service crisis, the committee quickly realized that CAPCA’s £1.7million allocation would not be enough for the mayor to stop the majority of service cuts offered by Stagecoach.

If the cuts take place, the impact on affected residents will be enormous.

Entire communities such as Chatteris will lose every one of their services and isolated individuals in predominantly more rural communities who cannot afford the luxury of a car will be cut off entirely from access to essential services for health, education and workplaces.

Cllr Steve Count said: ‘We are outraged that Stagecoach has been able to retain its bus improvement grant, reducing or eliminating services entirely in predominantly rural areas.

“But then they are greatly increasing bus services in southern and urban areas, which we can only assume is more cost effective.

“The planned removal of services by Stagecoach has a particular impact on the communities of Fenland and East Cambs.”

Cllr Count said the council understands the Stagecoach proposal comes as the effects and damage of the Covid-19 pandemic are still with us and bus revenues are reduced.

However, some of the affected services are operating at up to 97% and 92% of pre-pandemic levels, but it is still proposed to cut them.

He said: “It is clear that time is needed to come up with a more sustainable plan and a stronger base of passenger numbers to better understand the ‘new normal’ which is post-Covid demand.

“To help address this issue, we have put forward a proposal that should fully fund and stop the proposed service cuts and cuts.”

Proposal:

Allocate £1.7m from Cambridgeshire County Council’s unrestricted and unallocated £42.1m reserves for bus grants.

  1. Call on the GCP to match our ambitions, as the central tenet of their future plans is to improve bus service.

  1. Call on our county colleagues from the Liberal Democrat and Labor parties and the Independents to support the council and unite in agreeing to allocate £1.7m of the unfenced and unallocated £42.1m that the county council currently holds. This proposal must come specifically from the “Post-Pandemic and Recovery Budgeting Account”, which currently has £7m, which is completely aligned with post-pandemic situations like this.

  2. Ask the Chief Executive to write to individual members of the Greater Cambridge Partnership Board, asking them to urgently consider matching this level of commitment from their £40m-a-year grant. The GCP is currently proposing to start delivering its improved bus network in 2023, which is expected to be subsidized at £20m a year. There is no value in allowing services to be cut now and reintroduced at a later date. This proposal will ensure that the CPCA can focus on more rural areas and that the GCP’s plans to provide an improved bus network for their region are not abandoned at an early stage, due to a lack of confidence in the reliable continuity of bus services and a significant drop in bus ridership in their area.

Cllr Count said: “These concrete plans with available funding can prevent proposed cuts for a year, giving the Transport Authority the time it needs to develop (alongside the GCP) plans for a public transport sustainable, which ensures that rural communities are not left isolated.

“The impact on residents is immediate and therefore an immediate response is needed; while giving the authorities time to think about the longer term.

He added: “These plans are also fully in line with the other parties’ ideologies of cooperation, compassion, community, as well as protecting vulnerable people’s access to vital and environmentally beneficial services.

“We hope the Liberal Democrats, Labor and Independents will support us in our efforts to end these cuts to vital services.”

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