North Warwickshire and Bedworth’s Member of Parliament Craig Tracey has pointed to examples of a reduction in bus routes in our community to highlight to a Minister the concerns of local residents.
In particular the recent case in Kingsbury where the MP supported residents in trying to keep the Arriva service under threat.
In the debate on Rural buses Mr Tracey stated:
“Does my hon. Friend agree that we need to look at some kind of cross-borough co-operation, to give assistance to people from rural areas who are looking to go shopping in our towns and cities or trying to get to work?”
Julian Knight MP for Solihull who held the Westminster Hall Debate replied:
“…I absolutely agree that a cross-borough approach between north Warwickshire and Solihull, where our boroughs meet, is important. I know that there are west midlands programmes, but our reaction to them is often a little borough-specific rather than cross-borough…”
Mr Tracey later directly questioned the Minister:
“The 116 route in Kingsbury was pulled with the minimum amount of notice, which left my constituents unable to get to work because there was no alternative service.”
Minister Andrew Jones responded:
“I indeed accept my hon. Friend’s good point. He has raised this issue as a vigorous champion for his area on several occasions. When we do not see that best practice happening we are right to hold bus companies to account, in representation of our communities. That is our job here. We must stand up “for people who need bus services and who, although they do not necessarily have the sharpest elbows, must have their voices listened to.
“My Department, and through it the Government as a whole, is taking action to support transport within communities in many other areas, and I would like to mention a couple of them that will, I think, be of interest. At present, each year about £2 billion of public funding for transport services is provided by a number of agencies. For example, we have the £250 million a year that is spent on the bus service operators grant, which the Department for Transport provides to bus operators, local authorities and community transport organisations on the basis of the amount of fuel consumed—a pence per litre rebate. The Department for Communities and Local Government provides £317 million a year to local authorities to support socially necessary bus services. The £1 billion a year spent on home-to-school transport is provided to local authorities by DCLG. The £150 million a year spent on non-emergency patient transport is provided by the NHS to individual local clinical commissioning groups.”