Rosie Cooper MP

Working hard for the people of West Lancashire

21/03/06 MP Rosie to call on treasury to investigate funding all

Rosie Cooper, MP for West Lancashire is calling on the Treasury to investigate how the funding for free bus passes scheme is being allocated and used by local authorities as some are keeping large sums of funding in reserve at a time when public transport in West Lancashire is in desperate need of additional support.

Rosie Cooper MP said:

“I have called on the Treasury to investigate how the funding for the new free bus pass scheme is being allocated and used by local authorities. It seems there is a considerable amount of confusion about the implementation of this new scheme.”

“Comments made by the Cllr Owens, have only served to confuse people even further because although Lancashire County Council is the transport authority, the delivery of the free bus passes is the responsibility of the District Council. That Councillor Owens the Finance Portfolio holder didn’t realise this was his own responsibility is rather worrying. If he spent a little less time trying to score political points and more time focused on delivering the best possible services to the people of West Lancashire, then West Lancashire would be much better served.”

"To clarify the situation, West Lancashire District Council estimates £900,000 of its total grant support is for the free bus passes for the elderly and disabled announced by Gordon Brown in his last budget. West Lancashire District Council also estimates that of this amount £700,000 will actually be used to fund concessionary travel with a further £65,000 committed to transport schemes in the budget. This still leaves a substantial amount of funding, £135,000. I am calling on the District Council to invest all the funding into transport schemes and not just allow it to sit unspent in a reserve.”

“I believe that West Lancashire needs to invest every penny of the available funding to improve public transport services locally because a free bus pass scheme is useless without buses on which to use the pass.”

“I have written to HM Treasury to ask for an investigation in to how the funding is being used by local authorities to ensure this additional funding is used for the purpose for which it was given by the Government.”

Labour County Councillor Tony Martin, Cabinet member responsible for transport said:

“Even though it is Lancashire County Council’s responsibility to support bus services it is not our responsibility to deliver the free bus pass scheme. This is the responsibility of each district council in the county, which is why the funding from central government has gone directly to West Lancashire District Council.”

“They have chosen to be conservative in their estimates and are holding back some of the funding from central government in reserve. Personally, I would have welcomed the opportunity to work with West Lancashire District Council to perhaps extend the free bus pass scheme beyond West Lancashire to allow local residents the chance to travel for free to other parts of the county.”

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