Labour questions Metro's £1m underspend

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Metro Passenger Transport Executive Could Do More to Back Bus Routes, say Labour

At a time when Hebden Bridge has lost bus routes, routes have had the number of buses cut and prices have gone up, the Hebden Bridge Web was surprised to learn that Metro need not have done this - it has underspent its budget by £1 million.

Labour councillors in West Yorkshire are claiming that Metro – the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority – is not doing as much as it could to ensure that vital public bus routes are protected. And they are blaming the Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors who run the authority.

At the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority’s budget meeting last week, a Labour proposal to increase the budget for subsidising bus services was voted out by Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors. And it was admitted that the budget for tendered bus services is going to be underspent this year by over one million pounds.

Local Labour councillor Tim Swift, who is one of Calderdale’s two representatives on the Passenger Transport Authority, has told the Hebden Bridge Web that he is disappointed and amazed by the situation.

“Whenever one of the private bus companies like Firstbus or Arriva withdraw a service, we are immediately told that Metro has limited funds to subsidise vital public services”, Cllr Swift explained. “So I am astonished that the budget for tendered services is actually going to be underspent this year by over one million pounds.

“Labour councillors are not convinced that Metro is putting enough of its resources into tendered services. We wanted the officers to be asked to do more to identify savings in other budgets so we could increase the funding for non-profitable but socially vital bus services like the 520 through Illingworth or the service to Norwood Green. But the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats who run the transport authority for West Yorkshire voted together to block our proposal.
“We will be doing all we can to keep up the pressure to make sure that the budget for tendered service is used in full in the next financial year. We should not see local people losing bus services that are vital to their community whilst the PTA have spare cash sitting in the bank.”

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