22 September 2011: Is your community being left with no public transport? Were you consulted before your bus was cut? Have vulnerable people been left stranded? It could be that bus cuts in your area were illegal.
Bus cuts have serious consequences and it is vital that local transport authorities follow all the rules and laws that are there to protect passengers. To help campaigners hold their local authorities to account we have asked barrister, Zoe Leventhal, from Landmark Chambers to write a note on the things that local authorities must do by law when making decisions about bus services. I have also written up a shorter summary in less legal language.
If the council ran a consultation only after the decision was made or if they ignored the findings it is worth taking a closer look. If they did not take seriously their duty to provide appropriate public transport to meet the needs of communities it is possible that the decision could be challenged. To compare what they should have done, with what they really did, you will need to find and collect all the papers that relate to the local transport authority decision. These might be on the council website or you might have to ask the council for them.
When Jo Green in Cambridgeshire took her council to court, they were forced to back down. Having originally voted to remove all bus subsidies, the council have gone back to the beginning and are now asking the public what they think about ending support for socially necessary bus routes that rely on subsidy.
However, the legal route is not right for everyone in every case. I hope the note will also be helpful for campaigners attending council meetings and engaging in consultations. Knowing the law puts you and your campaign in a much stronger position.