Council call to Government - give community say on bus services changes
Telford & Wrekin Council is urging the Government to give local councils and residents greater say on any changes that commercially run bus companies make to bus services.
The call comes as Arriva, the main bus company operating in the borough, is due to impose the biggest shake-up of local bus services in more than 10 years.
Due to come into effect on 19 July, these changes would see Arriva significantly affect many bus services in the borough.
These provide a vital lifeline for communities in the borough where many people rely on public transport to access work, education, health and leisure.
The Council says Arriva held no public consultation before lodging its intention to make these change with its regulator the Office of the Traffic Commissioner. It’s only requirement is to give 56 days notice of its intention, which it did in May.
The Council is now calling on its two local MPs to join in lobbying Government to change the current system to force operators like Arriva to consult local people and partners such as councils before it can propose any such changes. It also wants a much longer public consultation.
Cllr Angela McClements, cabinet member for Communities, Regeneration and Transport, said: “The changes that Arriva want to make from 19 July will effectively leave many of our poorest and most needy communities stranded without public transport.
“The current set up leaves councils and local communities virtually powerless to challenge private operators.
“That cannot be right and runs completely against the idea of localism – it must change and more power must be put in the hands of local people.
“We have written to our two MPs Lucy Allan and Mark Pritchard and the Office of the Traffic Commissioner, to urge them to help us change the law to redress this ludicrous situation.
“As a minimum we ask that Arriva extend their consultation so that they can listen to local views.”
John Thompson, chairman of Telford & Wrekin Bus Users group, added: “Arriva must first consult with local people before bulldozing through these changes regardless of local views that we believe will be very harmful to all of the people who rely on public transport.”