Area: Leicestershire, Rutland
Interests: Bus, Rail, Traffic
Campaign for Better Transport, Leicestershire and Rutland campaigns on local issues and supports the national organisation in pressing for sustainable transport.
Contact: Terry Kirby
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Tel: 01455 842891
Past news updates
Campaign for Better Transport (Leicestershire) became concerned about funding cuts for bus services in 2010 when Leicestershire County Council first proposed cutting 45 supported services.
We worked constructively with the Council and bus operators, and 25 of these were subsequently saved, at least partially.
More, and bigger, threats came in 2012, however. The County Council proposed further cuts to its public transport budget, and the effects of cuts to the rate of reimbursement for acceptance of free concessionary passes, and reductions to Bus Service Operators' Grant (BSOG), which meant in effect increases in costs for bus operators of around 5 to 10%, began to bite.
A number of services previously supported by the Council had been taken on commercially by the operator in the meantime. And the Council made a policy decision not to financially support any weekday evening or Sunday services.
So this situation was different from the 2010 one, and a different approach was required. We organised a series of public meetings around the County last year which were well attended in response to the Council's public consultation, which we said was flawed in several ways. Largely as a result of these meetings, the Council were so inundated with public responses that they delayed making any further decisions (or cuts) until after the recent local elections.
Now the new Council is in place, still Conservative controlled but more open and amenable than previously. But the issues have not gone away.
To try to deal with these properly, we sought, and won, some funding from the Sheila McKechnie Foundation to do some proper community work on this. We've organised a series of five public meetings at venues all over Leicestershire, from a hall in a very small village in the west of the County to pubs and Community Centres in the main market towns.
We have found that this is about much more than buses. It's about whole communities, and how to help them function properly. I know of at least three people who had to leave their jobs because of the cuts in 2010, and 'sign on'. Who picked up the bill for that? The public, of course. That's you and me, as taxpayers. But, knowing the services concerned, I can understand, in the circumstances, why they were withdrawn. They'll never be financially viable.
We are finding neighbouring Parish Councils talking to each other, for the first time in years, about what will happen if their bus is axed. Several quite large villages now have no shop, so setting up a community shop in one village, as has been suggested, could save some rural folk a 15 mile round trip to the nearest market town, which is what they currently have to do every time they want to go shopping. And doctors' surgeries, chemists etc... well, there's a story in itself.
We are now at the stage of collating the public responses from all the meetings, and presenting them to the Council and various operators. I expect we will get a sympathetic hearing, but there will be many changes, and, probably, quite a few cuts, too.
I think the lesson from this is that we must be disciplined, constructive and polite in our approach, but persistent. We also need to look outside the traditional transport spheres to find, and work with, colleagues of various dsiciplines and backgrounds, who, if approached properly, will probably be happy to help in any way they can.
After all, they're probably feeling threatened as well, so it makes sense for as many different disciplines as possible to work together on issues like this.
We all live in the same country, when all is said and done.
Previously we have campaigned on major issues, including:
- Planned major bus service reductions in Hinckley due to a dispute over funding for acceptance of free passes. Good news: Funding has now been secured for this until 2011, so the services have been saved;
- The cancellation of the Loughborough – Nottingham section of the Coalville – Nottingham service by Arriva as part of a major service review. Good news: We met another operator, Premiere Travel, who have agreed to take the Loughborough – Nottingham service over commercially on a similar frequency. It was previously operated with a ‘de minimis’ support from Notts County Council. And Premiere have agreed a joint through day ticket rate with Arriva for Coalville – Nottingham journeys.
- We’re also campaigning with other organisations on such matters as:
- Leicestershire County Council’s bizarre and potentially hugely damaging plans for Loughborough Town Centre;
- City Centre development matters;
- Rail service matters;
We are represented on a number of organisations, including Quality Bus Partnerships, Highways Forums, local sustainability forums and on the Board of Voluntary Action Leicestershire.
Our Leicester sub group has merged with Transition Leicester which brings contact with other environmental groups and supporters.
They meet on the third Saturday of the month from 1200 hours for a Transition Café in the foyer of Bishop Street Methodist Church, opposite Leicester Town Hall.