21 September 2011: With flyers, a loadhailer and a banner that was literally the size of a double decker bus, we hit the Liberal Democrat party conference in Birmingham with some good old fashioned campaigning.
Hundreds of Save our Buses postcard surveys were completed, and local Campaign for Better Transport activists Terry Kirby and Jim Frogget did a sterling job all day talking to members of the public. In particular bus users who had come into Birmingham from Kidderminster in Worcestershire spoke of the problems they have faced since losing evening bus services in their area. Photographs from the event can be viewed here.
Norman Baker visited the bus at lunch time and a crowd of people were there to meet him, including representatives from the NUS, Age UK and the Association of Colleges. The Minister discussed the way bus cuts effect access to education with a group of local students from Cadbury College.
Then as the evening drew in we headed inside for a more formal fringe meeting. There was a great turn out, with hardly a free seat in the room. Stephen Joseph our CEO chaired the meeting and speeches were made by Cllr Jon Hunt from Birmingham transport authority Centro, Fran Hill from Unison, Theresa Perchard from Citizens Advice Bureaux and Barbara Heam from the National Children’s Bureaux. Norman Baker again made time in his busy schedule to address the meeting as well.
However the speaker who received the loudest applause was young Jhon Bateman, who at just 14 years old, made a powerful speech about the vital role of buses for young people. It was an important reminder that buses must be protected and cultivated if they are to meet the needs of the next generation.