Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (24th June 2013) said that he ‘totally agreed’ with a report from a cross-party House of Commons Committee who have argued that funding for local bus services should be protected in the Spending Review. The report came from the House of Commons Environmental Audit committee in advance of the Spending Review on Wednesday.
The Committee urged the Department for Transport to focus more closely on improving accessibility as well as on supporting the economy. It recommends that existing transport funding should be better coordinated and directed to accessibility-focused initiatives, and the social value of transport explicitly considered in policy-making.
“This report shows that tight budgets, reductions in bus services, increases in fares and a further concentration of public services are worsening transport accessibility for vulnerable groups and people. Accessibility statistics show travel times to key services steadily increasing over time, particularly for access to hospitals — with nearly half of the population not having reasonable access for treatment.
“We all know how bad local services are on Teesside and in East Cleveland now, with the local bus monopoly delivering cuts in services, reductions in service intervals and increased fares.
“If the Chancellor cuts funding for bus services this week he will be making life harder for the young adults, pensioners, disabled and rural people that are already disadvantaged by the poor provision of affordable public transport in this area. Lots of local people have no option but to rely on buses to get to job interviews or work, attend college or training, visit hospital or access other public services.
“The Government must concentrate on coordinating – not cutting – bus services and making sure fares are affordable so as to ensure everyone has access to jobs and public services.”