BUS SERVICE FUNDING ISSUES
The Somerset Guardian, 8th March 2023
Last month, the Leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council (B&NES), Councillor Kevin Guy, sent out an e-connect update about forthcoming spending commitments and budgetary changes.
In his message, Councillor Guy stated that, as costs have risen, the money given to the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) for supported buses does not, apparently, go as far as it used to. This is in spite of the Government having provided nearly £2 billion in emergency and recovery funding to the bus sector in order to mitigate the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, which was on top of the usual amount of money that was given to the Council and WECA. The Government also took the decision to extend bus recovery funding for a further six months until March 2023 to continue providing assistance to the sector and to offer certainty over the short-term.
Buses are the responsibility of the Mayor and the Liberal Democrat run Council. Residents of North East Somerset have been left without their fair share and as usual, millions of pounds have been spent reinforcing the ring of steel around Bath and financing the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. My concerns have been justified since the influx of correspondence to my office from often elderly or vulnerable constituents who rely upon buses whose services are being changed or cut.
When WECA was formed, I predicted that it would spend a disproportionate amount on other areas. Unfortunately, my fears have not been allayed and I think that it is a real pity that B&NES joined it. I have fought and will continue to fight for equality across the region so that my constituents get access to the resources that were intended for them.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of any assistance: firstname.lastname@example.org.