West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper presented a 2,500 name petition in Parliament yesterday as the next stage in her campaign to get a fair deal on free travel for pensioners in West Lancashire. The petition calls on the Government to do all in its power to ensure that West Lancashire Borough Council changes its arrangements on free travel for disabled people and those over 60.
Rosie has been working with local pensioner organisations for many months to campaign for a better, fairer deal on free public transport and collected thousands of names for the petition at a street stall on Ormskirk market.
“Pensioners in West Lancashire are tired of seeing their neighbours in Wigan and Southport travelling free on buses and trains and want to know why they can’t travel free here."
“West Lancashire Borough Council actually makes a profit out of the concessionary travel scheme from the grants given to it by the Government - projected to be £133,000 this year to be exact - but it won’t use all this extra money to pay for additional free travel on trains for local pensioners."
“At the very least these older people should be given the option of a free bus pass or a free rail pass, but the borough council is evidently more interested in using the money for their pet projects while picking the pockets of those who should be benefiting from this money."
“It is time that the borough council sat up and listened to the demands of the local community and gave pensioners and disabled people a fairer deal on free travel in West Lancashire. I will continue to work hard here and in Parliament on this issue.”
Rosie has been campaigning since the beginning of 2009 to secure a better deal for local pensioners. With the support of West Lancashire Pensioners Forum and Skelmersdale Senior Citizens Association, Rosie held two weekend street stalls at Ormskirk Market and Skelmersdale Concourse and got over 2,500 signatures for her Fair Deal on Free Travel petition. In addition, Rosie, along with local pensioners, met with council bosses to make them aware of the strength of local feeling on this issue.
At the council’s budget meeting in February local pensioners protested from the public gallery at the council’s refusal to use some of its surplus money to fund free rail travel for the elderly.
Jim Burgess, Chair of West Lancashire Pensioners Forum, said:
“I’m delighted that Rosie has presented our petition in Parliament, she has worked incredibly hard on this issue alongside local pensioners and I look forward to continuing our campaign to fight for a better deal for West Lancashire’s pensioners."
“It beggars belief that the council wastes hundreds of thousands of pounds knocking down a few houses to make way for its new multi-million pound Town Hall and shores up huge reserves of £20m rather than funding access to vital public transport for disabled and elderly people.”
In May Rosie took the issue to Parliament, holding a Westminster Hall Adjournment Debate calling on the Government to urgently tackle the practices, attitudes and behaviour of the borough council.