Tories Turn On The Spending Taps?

Depending on which Tories control which taps?

Nationally, its “£5billion to boost pensions and welfare”. Locally, its Lancashire County Council Tories, its tap for Arriva NW contracted local 310 bus service in West Lancashire on Sundays has been turned off because “It is not commercially viable for them to do so”. We’ve all heard that before! It’s finances have been murky for a long time.

That statement about the 310 is confirmation of the selective discrimination that exists for holders of the English National Bus Pass (ENBP), those elderly and disabled people who rely on local transport to avoid social exclusion.

Mr Stephen Young, grandly named as the LCC Executive Director of Growth, Environment and Transport, whose job title might really be “Executive Director of No Growth and Very Little Transport” has stated in writing to Rosie Cooper that “Unfortunately the county council is not in a position to financially support a Sunday service on this (310) route

and indeed we have taken the decision NOT to support ANY Sunday bus service in Lancashire, concentrating our limited resources on Monday to Saturday daytime services”.

Mr Young goes on to relate how “Although it is not possible to use a concessionary bus pass on the local rail network to travel free of charge, Merseyrail do operate a train service every 30 minutes between Ormskirk and Liverpool and therefore there is still good access into Liverpool on Sundays for all local residents”. Mr Young also confirmed what we already knew, that the refurbishment of Ormskirk railway station was “funded in partnership between Merseyrail and LCC”. Funded from council tax including that paid by elderly and disabled people!

So, selective social exclusion is alive and well, particularly here in the arse end of Lancashire which has borders with authorities where publicly funded trains run only for those who can afford the full fare rate. Remind me again, what was the ENBP introduced for?

To add fuel to the fire of the disgruntled West Lancashire socially excluded, the Liverpool City region with its Metro Mayor and all the funding that enables its commercial support for Arriva 310 services Monday to Saturday, but “The evening and Sunday journeys between Liverpool and Maghull are also operated commercially but receive some “top up” financial support from Merseytravel”. Public money!

It seems the Arriva tail wags the local authority dogs so far as the 310 bus “service” for want of a description of it, and as Cllr Liam Robinson who is the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Transport Portfolio Holder and Chair of Transport Committee told Rosie Cooper a few weeks ago “We cannot support…the route north of Maghull…as it falls within Lancashire…to provide similar top up funding to ourselves to enable the service to operate through the county boundary”.

LCC has apparently begun the search for a partner organisation which would initially design a programme to “future proof” services delivered by County Hall. The process, which is expected to take three months, could cost up to £400,000. Might this “outsourced partner” be looking at “future proofing” bus services?

On 18th September LCC Councillor Driver denied that the process could see some residents cut loose by the authority. “People can be absolutely assured that we will never do that – we will always be there for the people of Lancashire and particularly those that are more vulnerable than others”. Really? So where are they for those who relied on the 310 bus, Just cut loose and cut off!

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