Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Fair Deal on Buses thanks to Government after local council failure year on year...

Generous national concessions on the buses were announced by the Government yesterday after year-on-year failure by our mean-spirited district councillors to do the decent thing.

I’ve campaigned for at least five years to end South Kesteven District Council’s Scrooge scheme on concessionary fares...

I've taken older people to Grantham to watch Deepings councillors vote against a more generous scheme after promising they would vote for it...

I've handed out Mickey Mouse bus passes to our local councillors and campaigned at the county council for a Lincolnshire-wide deal...

I even managed to get a Government Minister to Deeping St James to tell SKDC they were wrong...

A couple of weeks ago, I dreamed HERE that if I could slip just one line into the Queen's Speech, it would be:
“My Government will legislate to make sure all local councils offer a fair deal for pensioners on concessionary travel.”
Well, I’d better be careful what I wish for. The following day, the Queen uttered these fine words:
“Legislation will provide for free off-peak local bus travel for pensioners and disabled people.”
Spot on, Your Majesty.

Yesterday, just a few days after the Queen’s Speech, Prime Minister Tony Blair and Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander unveiled the Concessionary Bus Travel Bill.

SKDC were forced by the Government to deliver free off-peak travel on buses for pensioners and disabled people from April this year thanks to a £350 million investment – but only within local authority boundaries.

The other councils in Lincolnshire - and many across the country - went further and allowed free journeys to local shops and hospitals in neighbouring counties.

But the scrooges at SKDC stubbornly refused to budge.

That meant today Bourne and Deepings pensioners are forced to pay full fare when they get to the county border – while those from the six other districts travelling much further distances on the same bus get their entire journey to Queensgate totally free.

The new scheme launched by the Prime Minister yesterday goes much further (if you see what I mean) than even I dared hope for.

It’s a countrywide a free-travel scheme for the over 60s and disabled people backed up with an extra £250 million in Government funds from 2008.

So pensioners and disabled people will get free off-peak or weekend tickets on buses to visit parts of England they have always wanted to go to.

Great news for Deepings and Bourne pensioners and disabled people.


Anonymous said...

The test comes in implementing these things.

Many local authorities such as North East Lincs and Labour controlled Blackpool still charge pensioners to travel on the buses in their own area.

Far from waffling on about free national travel is it not time that Labour got its house in order by starting to implement free local travelor is this another of your fine mess of broken promises?

Anonymous said...

This news is most welcome.

Well done, Phil.

The thing is that it's not just scrooge behaviour by South Kesteven.

They have priorities which they boast about on their website.

It is quite explicit. Public Transport and Pest Control (and tourism for some reason) are not priorities and any call for spending is therefore bullied out.

It has been obvious for some time that these priorities are not sustainable in any sense of the word.

Anonymous said...

Stubborn eh?

I can do stubborn too.

Anonymous said...

"Street Scene" is a priority. But streets in the Deepings don't seem as much of a priority as those in some other places.