Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Guest Post: Bus Petition Goes To County Cabinet (By Cllr Susan van de Ven)

Cllr Susan van de Ven
The petition against cuts to bus subsidies was presented to County Council Cabinet today by Cllr Tumi Hawkins. Over 700 people signed this petition, which is only one of a number over the past two years since the Council administration decided to cut 100% of bus subsidies.

Since the cuts decision, progress has been made the hard way. An application for Judicial Review prompted a retrospective consultation, which clearly indicated that vulnerable people are most likely to be affected by any loss of subsidized bus services. The administration then announced it would restore 40% of the subsidy budget but intended that this should be deployed on new ‘transport solutions’ under the brand name Cambridgeshire Future Transport.

So far the CFT project has produced no more than two new solutions in the whole county and the project team have left their posts. New staff are being recruited but a lapse of several months means a damaging loss of momentum. Councillors are anxious that lifeline transport in rural areas is protected and many have worked hard to support the CFT project, warts and all, in the hope of helping to get something off the ground.

It would seem that an uncertain future has caused some bus operators pull out of subsidized service contracts. Last week notice came from Cozy’s that it is to terminate its contract for the 31 bus running between Heydon, Chishill, Fowlmere, Trumpington and Cambridge. The County Council is working hard to re-tender and hopefully a new operator will be in place soon. A new Cambridgeshire Future Transport solution was to have been in place by September 2013 but without the staff to run the project that date will surely come and go without a change.