Bus Cuts Update

 

KENT COUNTY COUNCIL PLANS TO CUT ALL BUS SUBSIDIES

SDSAF has been actively communicating with the County Council, our MPs and our Members on the cuts to bus subsidies being recommended by the County Council.  Please see the full communication between all parties below.

WE URGE MEMBERS TO HAVE THEIR SAY IN THE CONSULTATION WHICH OPENS IN JANUARY 2018.  IF WE DON’T PROTEST, THE BUSES WILL GO.

It is our belief that this is an argument between KCC and Central Government about how local authorities have been starved of money for years. This argument is well overdue – but if KCC and the Government do not come to some agreement, it will be US who suffers.

EMAIL COMMUNICATIONS FROM AND TO KCC

Bus routes that will be affected by this decision are shown here;

https://democracy.kent.gov.uk/documents/s81468/Item%2012%20-%20Appendix%20B%20-%20MTFP%204M%20Budget%20Reduction%20-%20Proposed%20Contract%20Withdrawals%20V.2%20Supplementary.pdf

They include THESE BUS ROUTES;

222   228    232    234    235    277    404   405   421  423   431  433  435  474  475   489   632

27 November 17.    Email from Steve Plater to Chairman, Frank McConnell, asking me to look at

http://www.kentlive.news/news/kent-news/kent-county-council-bus-services-838814?service=responsive

The Kent live website alerted us that the County Council was going to have a meeting to discuss removing bus subsidies.

28 November 17I attended a meeting at County Hall where in this matter would have been considered very relevant but it was not brought up by the chairman, County Councillor Graham Gibbons.

29 November amI emailed the following to my County Councillor;

Dear David (Brazier)

I think I can safely say that most of the nearly 1100 members of the SDSAF would disagree with the possible withdrawal of bus subsidies and i would urge you to vote against the measure.

I fully understand that this is an attempt to fight against central government grants to local authorities and you will know that we have supported that fight for years but this step must not be taken.  It will increase the massive problems that older people already have in getting to hospitals and to other medical centres, it will increase isolation and loneliness and add misery to hundreds if not thousand in this District alone.

I am asking my Membership Secretary to send out an urgent message to all our Members today telling them about this debate.  I will be asking our Members to petition their councillors as well as our MPs about this divisive and dangerous possibility.

29 November 17I was contacted by Debbie King of the Sevenoaks Chronicle who asked me for the SDSAF point of view. I referred to the content of my email (above) to David Brazier.  Debbie had also spoke to Vice Chair Merilyn Canet.

On the same day I emailed Sir Michael Fallon, my MP, a copy of my email to David Brazier and added the following;

I urge you on behalf of all older people including the almost 1100 Members of the Sevenoaks Forum to do whatever you can to stop any possibility of a senseless decision being made.

30 November 17  Sir Michael replied to this the very next day as follows;

Dear Mr McConnell,

 Thanks for this. 

 I appreciate your view on this matter.  I have already spoken out strongly against the proposal, which has been covered in local media, and I have signed a joint letter with other Kent MPs which has been sent to KCC Leader Paul Carter expressing our strongly-held views.  Cuts that target hard-working families and vulnerable people need justifying, and I have called on KCC to hold an open meeting first so that West Kent can have its say before any cuts are imposed.  I await KCC’s response. 

 Kind regards,

Michael Fallon MP

 I have asked Sir Michael to let me know what Kent’s response is.

1 December 17I see this morning that the Kent County Council committee has voted to continue this idea of removing bus subsidies. They will put the matter out to consultation in January 2018.

I called Kent County Council’s press office this morning and asked when they would be putting a statement about this decision on their website. They said that there was nothing to put on the website.  I told the press officer that I disagreed. I notice this afternoon that a statement has been put on their website: it can be accessed here;

https://kccmediahub.net/statement-on-bus-subsidies745

1 December 2017I emailed County Councillor Alan Marsh as follows:

Dear Mr Marsh

from SEVENOAKS DISTRICT SENIORS ACTION FORUM

When my colleagues and I attended the Bus Select Committee some months ago, we were very impressed both by the way the Select Committee dealt with its business on that day and by the Policy report that followed.

I now need to communicate with my colleagues and almost 1100 Members on how all of the good intention shown in that report links in with the decision this week to consider cutting all bus subsidies.

Would you please advise?

1 December 17

Mr Brazier replied;

Frank

Thanks for your message. Doubtless you understand that where services are supported for, say, late night and Sunday runs, it is only those, not the entire services that are at risk.

The County Council has, over the last five years endured the loss of 50% of its revenue support grant.  A great deal of work has been done to continue to provide services of all kinds, including concessionary services, that the public really value and it is the latter that have been protected over the years. To exercise a well-worn cliche, the low hanging fruit has been picked; we have now had all the fruit on the tree and there is a c. £25m hole in the budget for 2018/19.  This money has to be found somewhere.  Subsidised buses, many of which are very lightly used, must yield £4m. If not, where else would you find that money? There is no waste.  Even my tiny budget as Chairman will give up 25% next year. There’s nothing to be gained by saying no and hoping that the problem will go away or that a magic money tree will be found. 

It’s not a matter of voting yet as any proposals will first be consulted upon, but members of all parties know the score and are probably resigned to the ultimate loss of most subsidised bus services.

Best wishes 

David Brazier

4 DECEMBER 2017

County Councillor Alan Marsh replied;

Good afternoon

Thank you for the note and I have been on my only leave this year and find on my return the situation outlined in budget proposals.

I felt the Select committee identified may issues from people such as yourselves but we have yet to open the first full bus county wide panel to push the agenda.

Please leave it with me and we will see how both innovation and pressure on bus companies and their monopolistic schedules can be countered.

Good to hear from you

Best Wishes

Alan Marsh

Please note that early in 2017, Kent County Councillors voted themselves an extra 15% in their allowances.  I have emailed KCC a Freedom of Information Request asking how much these allowances are costing us.

I have emailed a Freedom of Information Request to KCC asking how much KCC Members receive in total in their expenses and allowances.

 

ENDS

 

 

 

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