West Lancashire pensioners protested at the council’s budget meeting on Wednesday. Pensioners want the Conservative-controlled council to invest money the Council has received from the government for concessionary transport on a better deal for local pensioners.
West Lancashire pensioners sat in the public gallery holding signs expressing their feelings on the issue - ‘Highway Robbery’, ‘Merseytravel’s poor relations’; ‘A fair deal on public transport for West Lancs pensioners’; and ‘Actions speak louder than words.’ Currently they are forced to choose between a free off-peak bus pass or a rail card that only offers a discount. West Lancashire pensioners deserve the same deal as their neighbours in Wigan and Southport.
Pensioners are frustrated as West Lancashire District Council has a surplus of £38,000 from the government-funded scheme which could potentially rise to over £100,000 depending whether an agreement is reached on a county-wide scheme.
The Conservative council is making a profit from the Government scheme, has millions of pounds in reserve accounts, and has spent £600,000 on demolishing four homes for their new town hall, yet they can’t spend a tiny amount to help pensioners travel free throughout the area as their fellow pensioners in Merseyside can!
MP Rosie said:
“This Conservative council simply refuses to listen to local people. Residents have made their views known by signing a petition and now protesting at a council meeting."
“The surplus funding from the concessionary travel scheme should have been used to give extra services. Instead the council has spent it to fund their own pet schemes."
“Residents are really angry about this issue as they have friends who live in nearby local authority areas who can get both the bus and rail cards and are wondering why in West Lancs they are being treated like second class citizens."
“Once again the council has failed to do the right thing in the interests of local people.”
Jim Burgess said:
“The Conservative Council has made its choice. They would rather spend money on a new town hall than better transport choices for local pensioners. We know now that the council’s priorities are not our priorities.”
In recent weeks members of the West Lancashire Pensioners Forum and Skelmersdale Senior Citizens Association joined the MP to campaign for a better transport deal. They took to the streets with a petition in Ormskirk and Skelmersdale getting over 2500 signatures. MP Rosie and pensioner representatives then met with council officers to discuss the strength of feeling on the issue.