Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Lancaster MP backs campaigns to save bus services, Labour candidate petitions government

Lancaster MP Eric Ollerenshaw
It would seem that both side of the political divide are taking their own steps to keep the issue of night bus cuts in Lancashire in the public eye as protest mounts over the proposal from the Labour-led County Council.

Yesterday, the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Morecambe and Lunesdale Amina Lone launched a petition on change.org, laying the blame for the proposed bus cuts at the door of government for its concerted and savage cuts on local council funding, and called on Eric Pickles - Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government,  to Protect Bus Services to Rural Communities in Morecambe and Lunesdale.

Even though Labour councillors agree the proposed cuts (the subject of a consultation until Friday) will harm isolated communities and the most vulnerable in our area, it would appear that at least some of them will still vote for the cuts on 20th February, arguing they have no choice in the matter and even though such a decision would contradict Labour's national stance on supporting public transport initiatives.

Meanwhile, Lancaster's Conservative MP Eric Ollerenshaw has issued the following statement about the proposals in response to a petition to save the Kirby Lonsdale bus services, which we re-publish here in full.
As you will probably know from the local media, I am against the County Council’s plans to cut back on the bus services they support as it will have an extremely negative and damaging impact on our rural areas and some of the estates in and around Lancaster. I believe that this issue is so important to our local communities that I have spoken in Parliament to the Secretary of State for Transport on this issue on December 19th. You can read more about my position on the matter on my website at http://www.lancasterandfleetwoodconservatives.com/2013/12/eric-ollerenshaw-fights-million-cuts-to-lancashire-bus-services/.
In addition I am lobbying the Council to change their minds and will continue to do all I can to make sure these cuts do not go ahead. With the County Council effectively being a ‘hung Council’ this measure can be defeated.
I note that the petition is targeted at the Council Chief Executive and myself and, whilst I welcome the petition and knowing just how many people oppose the Council’s plans, I am encouraging anyone who doesn’t want these proposals to go ahead to lobby their local County Councillors as it will be they who make the final decision on this matter. To be clear: these cuts are proposed by the County Council and it is the County Councillors who have the final say as to whether to go ahead with them or not. As an MP I can lobby them and try to make them change their minds but I do not have a vote in the Council Chamber.
I have met with the Conservative Group on the County Council and I know that they have already stated that they will be voting against these proposals. I do not know how other County Council Groups or Independent County Councillors plan to vote at this stage but if you wish to contact them their details can be found online at www.lancashire.gov.uk
You can also put in your own formal objection to this proposal by contacting Lancashire County Council by email lcc.bus.services@lancashire.gov.uk or write to:
Bus & Supported Transport Manager
Lancashire County Council
Room D3, PO Box 100
County Hall, Preston
PR1 0LD
I would advise also specifically contacting the Leader of the County Council, County Councillor Jennifer Mein and the Cabinet member for Transport, County Councillor John Fillis, to ensure your voice on this issue is heard.
In the mean time, I will continue to do all I can to try to make sure the County Council does not press ahead with these cuts to our local bus services.
For those of you who have signed the petition but do not live in Lancaster and Fleetwood you may also wish to contact your own MP. You can find their contact details here: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps. Whilst it remains the case MPs will not have a vote on the Council’s proposals they can still bring pressure to bear.
Once again thank you for taking the time to contact me.
Yours faithfully
Eric Ollerenshaw
Member of Parliament for Lancaster and Fleetwood. 

The County Council's Consultation on the plan to cut Lancashire bus services is here

• Ursula Gallie's petition calling on the County Council to drop its proposal here: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/save-the-lune-villager-evening-sunday-buses-lancaster-kirkby-lonsdale-save-the-evening-and-sunday-bus-services-running-between-lancaster-and-kirkby-lonsdale#share

Campaign for Better Transport "Save Our Buses" Camapign 

View the Campaign for Better Transport's interactive bus cuts map which makes transparent the extent of the problem of local authority funding cuts to buses. This map is a crowd sourcing project, which means the CBT are asking you to help us track bus cuts 

County Council documents on affected services (PDF links)


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