by Julia on 21 January, 2008
In April 2008 the Government will be introducing it’s new national concessionary bus fare scheme. From now on, every person over the age of 60 and all disabled people will be able to travel on any bus in the country for free.
Sounds great doesn’t it?
Yes it does – and it is a great IDEA….. however, once again, not enough thought has gone into how this will actually work in reality….
Each borough across the country will have to pay for any journey started in it’s boundaries, regardless of where the traveller actually comes from. With a great town like Maidstone, a lot of people will get the bus to us for a days shopping, which their local authority will pay for. However, every trip home (by virtue of the fact that it’s beginning in our borough) will be paid for by us.
Now the Govt. is giving us funding to pay for this – however, it’s woefully short of even the most conservative of our projections. In addition, any additional benefits we offer to our residents (such as companion bus passes for disabled people, or are alternative ‘voucher scheme) will have to stop, or we will be penalized through lack of further funding.
What can be done? Well – on this one, I’ve gone and got all political!
Over the weekend, I’ve been collecting Councillors signatures to call for an extraordinary meeting of Maidstone’s council to debate the following motion:
CONCESSIONARY FARE MOTION
The Council regrets the government’s failure to fund fully the new national concessionary fares travel scheme and in particular the limitations to the funding that will affect the lives of disabled people and carers in Maidstone.
The Council calls on the government to reconsider its decision ont he criteria for the national scheme and to include companion passes, on a national basis, for the benefit of disabled people.
The Council also calls on the government to ensre that it fully funds each individual authority in adminstering the new national scheme in order to relieve the enormous pressure on our budget which has affected our ability to fund additional discretionary services.
In addition to this, I’ve written to Norman Baker (shadow Transport) requesting he submits an Early Day Motion (EDM) on this topic.
I’ve also been investigating how other councils have been affected, and it appears pretty bleak for them too. Lots have started similar campaigns. An example being Harlow Lib Dems.
If you have any ideas on how this can be progressed further, please let me know and I’ll give your ideas a go.Leave a comment