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‘Lies, damned lies and statistics’: Cambridgeshire bus subsidy outcry

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A new mayoralty precept of £12 a year is to be introduced by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CAPCA).

The money raised will help to subsidise bus services across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Use of the precept to subsidise buses was challenged by two Conservative district council leaders.

Tory amendment was wide ranging and included substantial criticism of the Mayor Dr Nik Johnson and of CAPCA across many issues, but on buses they were adamant that proposed subsidies using the mayoralty precept was wrong.

Tory amendment was wide ranging and included substantial criticism of the Mayor Dr Nik Johnson (above) and of CAPCA across many issues, but on buses they were adamant that proposed subsidies using the mayoralty precept was wrong.

Fenland District Council leader Chris Boden proposed, and Cllr Anna Bailey, leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council seconded, a plan that would have stopped it.

Their amendment to the combined authority precept proposal, included a challenge on the costs of continuing to subsidise 10 Stagecoach services – not on the list of the 18 threatened Stagecoach routes that were saved last year.

Pointing out the lack of Government funding for buses locally (other parts of the country received many millions), their amendment was critical of CAPCA’s inability to achieve any cash.

They claimed that “no attempt appears to have been made by  CAPCA to lobby Government for at least partial inclusion in the funding for Sustainable Transport Settlements, or at least for some compensatory and complementary payments given its exclusion”.

It also noted that “according to the most up-to-date information provided to the board by CAPCA officers, the ten most costly subsidised bus service contracts (on a per passenger journey basis) would cost CAPCA £634,133 to renew for the financial year 2023/24.

“These services only relate to 7,246 return journeys a year, at an average subsidy of £87.52 per return journey.”

Their amendment was wide ranging and included substantial criticism of the  Mayor Dr Nik Johnson and of  CAPCA across many issues, but on buses they were adamant that proposed subsidies using the mayoralty precept was wrong.

And they produced a table showing the 10 most highly subsidised routes.

However, during the debate that followed, attention was drawn to the fact that none of the routes they queried were in East Cambridgeshire or Fenland.

Cllr Bridget Smith, leader of South Cambridgeshire, said: “We have an extraordinary situation where we have the leaders of Fenland and East Cambridgeshire proposing no cuts to subsidize buses in their own patches but considerable cuts to buses mainly in South Cambridgeshire.

Cllr Bridget Smith, leader of South Cambridgeshire, said: “We have an extraordinary situation where we have the leaders of Fenland and East Cambridgeshire proposing no cuts to subsidize buses in their own patches but considerable cuts to buses mainly in South Cambridgeshire.

Cllr Bridget Smith, leader of South Cambridgeshire, said: “We have an extraordinary situation where we have the leaders of Fenland and East Cambridgeshire proposing no cuts to subsidize buses in their own patches but considerable cuts to buses mainly in South Cambridgeshire.

“This amendment and these proposals for buses is heartless and uncaring.

“I imagine that most of the people travelling on these services which are which are on this ‘hit list’ are actually people who haven’t got haven’t got a choice.”

Cllr Smith added: “They will be marooned with all the consequences of that if they have a choice if they have got cars, it just drives them into their cars and at a time when in South Cambridgeshire our carbon emissions are 25 above the national average because of transport.

“That goes against the grain of everything that you know I as a as a council leader and the combined authority want to achieve in regarding reduction of carbon emissions things.”

But it is the accuracy of the ‘hit list’ that provoked an outcry after the meeting after a challenge by Cllr Stephen Ferguson, chair of Cambridgeshire County Council.

He said the figures were “a significant misrepresentation of the cost per passenger.

“As Cllr Bailey well knows the number of passengers listed does not include people using concessionary fares.

“I am asking her for a retraction.”

He also tweeted that the ‘hit list’ came from a longer list provided as part of a confidential agenda item debated by CAPCA overview and scrutiny committee two days earlier.

And are now, he says, subject to a complaint under the code of conduct.

Histon and Impington Labour group also reacted to the information released by the two council leaders.

 

It tweeted that the figures used in the ‘hit list’ were for 2021/2022.

“Assuming that’s April 21 to March 22, hardly a typical time. England had Covid restrictions until July 21. Then more measures December 21 to February 22.

“Throughout that year there was much working from home and most big events were cancelled.”

The murky waters of confidential papers being released, however, hint at a return to issues that haunted CAPCA last year and which prompted widespread criticism.

The overview and scrutiny committee decided against releasing the information in the confidential appendix.

Cllr Lorna Dupre, the committee chair, has confirmed the subsidy data was confidential.

And that was because officers of CAPCA felt it was “commercially sensitive” so as not to share with other bus operators the level and degree of subsidy being applied.

Cllr Lorna Dupre, chair of the environment and green investment committee, said: “Cambridgeshire County Council is committed to doing the right thing for the environment.”

Cllr Lorna Dupre

Highlights of Wednesday’s CAPCA board meeting on the mayoralty precept and bus subsidy debate are below:

The amendment which would have scuppered the mayoralty precept was proposed by Cllr Chris Boden.

Cllr CHRIS BODEN (leader Fenland District Council)

The amendment basically says that there is no need for us to have a mayoralty precept this year and not only is there no need it’s not actually wanted by the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

There’s no need mainly because we have a significant amount of underspending in previous years partly caused by the chaos that there has been in the last two years with so many staff members being absent and or not having their places filled and there are therefore significant reserves that we’ve got if we were so desired.

I’m not suggesting this but if it were so desired, we could actually fund the whole of what is being proposed for spending in this year out of reserves.

It would mean that there would be more difficult decisions to make in the rest of the medium-time financial strategy period, but we would have that opportunity.

And to show the amount of flexibility that we’ve got it’s worth noting that just in the current budget that we’ve got in front of us there are £1.2 million proposed revenue budget spending which is related to projects which haven’t even yet been approved by the board.

If you go to the detailed appendices to the budget, you will see line after line saying subject to board approval subject to board approval subject to board approval.

We still have a large amount of flexibility about what we approve in the future let alone reconsidering some of the things which have been decided in the past.

But the main problem that there has been in this budget being created is of course related to buses and the issue of bus service subsidies

The greatest failure – greatest disaster – of the administration was the failure to secure bus service improvement money last spring.

We were told that this is because the ask was insufficiently ambitious and just for the sake of clarity Mark Harper the transport secretary made it clear in Parliament last week that did not mean that we were being penalized for not including road charging

Seven months ago this really came to the fore as far as this authority was concerned and it was agreed at that time as a matter of urgency that as many as possible of the services which Stagecoach had abandoned would be financed on a short-term basis up to the end of March this year by the combined authority.

That was done to a greater or lesser extent. There were some services which weren’t replaced and there were many other services which were reduced where that reduction was not reversed

That was done as a matter of urgency seven months ago and we’ve had seven months since then to work out what we should do for the future both for 2023 and 2024 and beyond that.

Not only have we failed to go through this on a line by line basis for which bus services we should or shouldn’t continue to subsidize or which new bus services there should be that we should subsidize.

Not only have we not done anything in the last seven months to do this on a on a service by service basis we’re told it’s going to be another seven months before we actually do that and sit down as a board and make those decisions and that is absolutely astonishing

The reason that it’s astonishing is that there was a reason Stagecoach abandoned some of these services because they are wholly and absolutely uneconomical.

Yet it’s included in the budget that we’ve got before us every single service that there was before that has to be protected for the next year.

And what one of the things that this amendment does is to highlight that there are 10 contracts that we have which we are proposing to continue next year we haven’t yet actually agreed to continue them but we’re proposing to continue them next year; those 10  contracts will cost us next year £634,133.

One service according to the most recent information available just 140 return journeys a week – and the cost on average £87.52 of subsidy per return journey per passenger.

That surely is not easy to justify.

That was the average of course; some of them were significantly more than that and we have to consider Best Value in what we do.

I fully accept that there was an emergency seven months ago when decisions had to be made and were made quickly we’ve had seven months to reflect on this.

Now is the time that we should be more realistic and ensure that when we are spending public money we are trying to ensure best value and I promise you £87.52 subsidy per return journey is not on the face of it best value

The list which is in front of you has 10 services that are 10 contracts that only includes those contracts where the return journey subsidy is £55 or more.

It could well be argued a £50 subsidy, a £40 subsidy is still unaffordable and unrealistic but that’s where it’s necessary to have more granularity.

It’s quite possible that some of these services could and should be provided but in a different way maybe with a different frequency may be at a lower frequency.

But it’s really important that we have that debate and discussion.

There has been no discussion about this whatsoever.

The whole lot of all the services however uneconomic they were being proposed to go forward for a further 12 months which surely isn’t justifiable

As far as the bus service improvement failure is concerned that was the most important and most difficult thing that this this authority has faced.

And you’d have thought that as a result when we were told you got another opportunity later in the year to apply for it.

You’d have thought we’d get our act together for that.

Well I’ll let Cllr Bailey who’s seconding this motion say just how lamentably we have continued to fail as far as applying to government for bus money is concerned.

There are other items in the amendment as well such as for example the vanity project of Cambridge City of culture.

We were told that Cambridge City Council itself doesn’t have the resource to be able to move this forward yet we are putting in the best part of half a million pounds in total if you count capital and revenue.

And if you take the brought forward from last year this year and next year’s figures we’re talking about the best the better part of half a million pounds which is being allocated for a vanity project

We are not in a position where we should be financing vanity projects.

In fact, what we are doing here both in terms of vanity projects and also in terms of uneconomic bus service subsidies is just demanding money from the public in order to cover the failings of this authority.

The failings it has to be said personally of the mayor because he’s personally taken charge both of the transport and infrastructure committee and the finance portfolio of this authority.

The buck stops with the mayor.

The mayoral precept is neither needed nor wanted.

When I say it’s not wanted, I’m referring to the public consultation which the combined authority undertook.

This public consultation which had I think a record number of responses as far as the public is concerned made it abundantly clear that this does not have public support.

Stop using people as a cash cow to be continually milked.

In the current financial squeeze you should be cutting costs.

Put the brakes on and rethink; buses are driving around empty.

I have to say that taking things overall we have a situation where we have a draft budget which is a real failed budget opportunity to get our expenditure under control.

It’s a failed opportunity by what is increasingly obviously a failing Authority led by a failed mayor

Cllr ANNA BAILEY (leader East Cambridgeshire District Council)

Taking money from people’s pockets with the force of law particularly in the current cost of living crisis without first doing every single thing possible to avoid it is lazy.

It’s too easy and in my view it’s just wrong

The combined authority should live within its means.

Local taxpayers should not be expected to pay for the failures of the mayor and the combined authority, and it isn’t necessary to put yet another charge on hard-pressed local council taxpayers

79 per cent of the people that responded to the question about raising a mayoral precept to pay for the buses said no.

You cannot just ignore those consultation responses.

The Conservative budget amendment makes a number of suggestions to balance the budget without the need to resort to a precept.

We also talk about buses in our amendment, and I will come on to that but just to say one stark statistic.

There is one bus service that this authority is subsidizing with public funds and it’s not one of the axed Stagecoach services but it is an astonishing cost of £256 per return passenger journey.

 

In the public domain or not? Well it is now but the argument is whether it was part of confidential papers considered by overview and scrutiny committee of combined authority. Described by critics as a ‘hit list’ it was part of an amendment tabled by Cllr Chris Boden.

In the public domain or not? Well it is now but the argument is whether it was part of confidential papers considered by overview and scrutiny committee of combined authority. Described by critics as a ‘hit list’ it was part of an amendment tabled by Cllr Chris Boden.

If you’re going to keep that money in the budget for goodness sake that has to be spent on a better bus service that more people can get the use of and I simply cannot support such a level.

We have to be brave and have this discussion.

It will be easy to say the Conservatives are looking to axe bus services but at £256 public subsidy per return journey it is untenable.

It is important for members of the public because there’s been some misinformation flying around in the media and on social media that the proposed precept today is not about improving bus services it’s purely about keeping with the status quo.

And the status quo is not going very well for people.

Lots of you know and that’s not directly the fault of this authority but lots of people being let down. Buses being cancelled stuff not working and we obviously have a performance monitoring role I would suggest across the network but particularly with our subsidized routes.

This is only about keeping the status quo.

The combined authority has been devising a new bus framework to help inform decisions on which bus routes should be supported when the contracts for the subsidized routes come up for renewal in March.

I’m unbelievably disappointed that this is now being proposed to delay these decisions on these routes until the autumn.

I cannot for the life of me understand why we would be doing that.

The people paying for this delay are the residents of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough through their council tax and I just can’t support that

We’ve taken a look at the top 10 most expensive subsidized per passenger journey services.

Together they cater for 7,246 annual passenger return journeys so that’s an average of two return journeys per day per bus that we are subsidizing.

At an average of two return journeys per day per bus at a cost of £87.52 per return journey.

We have to look at these services and decide whether they are right to continue or whether that money could be put to better use or whether it’s necessary.

By taking out these top 10 most expensive subsidized services leaves all of the axed Stagecoach routes in the plan. They will remain because we haven’t yet got data to understand how many people are using those services so it’s not right yet to look at those.

The purpose of devolution is to receive powers and funding from government to implement decisions locally; it’s not supposed to be a new method of taxing local residents .

The combined authority should live within its means.

Local taxpayers should not have to pay for failures of the mayor and the combined authority, and this is not just about £12 (the mayoralty precept).

I expect we’re going to hear all sorts of things about how it’s only a pound a month which is only a cup of coffee per week

This is not just about £12 a month – this is on top of what are already very expensive council tax bills in in this county.

Don’t be flippant by saying this is only £12 a year, it’s only a pound a month, it’s only a cup of coffee a week.

Please don’t do that; you it will be totally disrespectful to the people who are going to struggle to pay this.

And right now we should be doing every single thing possible like cancelling £157,000 worth of capital city of culture bids which are completely unnecessary and not the remit of this authority in any way

We’ve got the opportunity to change the bus routes that aren’t working and put better ones in place.

Let’s get on with this work not let’s not keep kicking the plan down the road and we have laid out an amendment that is absolutely deliverable.

Please give it proper consideration do not just vote it down on party lines.

JOHN PEACH (deputy police and crime commissioner)

It does seem looking at the whole situation of where we are economically and how people are struggling that the many elements that make up the council taxpayers bill when they finally get the bill are going up you know almost maxed out.

I know that the police authority will have to be putting up their precept and I believe the fire authority too.

Quite a few of the districts are putting up their council tax up more or less near the maximum and so is the county.

I’m a little bit surprised given all the under spending that we’ve had that there is a need for precept.

Cllr SARAH CONBOY (leader, Huntingdonshire District Council)

I think one of the real challenges for me is you’ve drawn attention to the survey.

I too read that survey with great interest and I’m always somewhat disappointed in surveys that more people don’t come forward.

When we think of the number of our residents who are in receipt of all of the services we provide to all our constituent authorities and across the combined authority it’s always disappointing not to have every single resident make a comment.

But I do notice that the majority of the responses were from Fenland so Cllr  Boden and perhaps outside of this meeting you’ll tell me what magic you’ve worked in Fenland because you had a 60 return rate in Fenland and I regrettably only had a 12 return rate.

So I must try harder and I’d love to be very pleased to talk to you about how you achieved that.

But also that might tell us about that response which was very clear.

If you ask anybody would you like to pay extra money for any service everybody always says I’d prefer not to because actually that’s how we are.

Like you I’m particularly minded about the cost of living. Our own council has had a motion around cost of living and climate because they are inextricably linked.

But it is front and centre of much of the decision making we are needing to make every single day of the week.

You drew our attention around the need to make efficiencies; I wholeheartedly agree with that.

We have a bus strategy coming forward that will look at addressing those very issues that Cllr Bailey so eloquently put before – we need to make sure that our services are efficient.

But I also looked at where those services were being provided.

All of us in those areas where we might cut services will have robust challenge from our own residents as to why we might protect some and not others at this late notice.

I’d like to have given that greater consideration because I would be needing to defend why we made those decisions.

We’ve talked a lot about inequalities. I’m making an assumption here some people on those services which proportionately arguably cost us more.

I’m assuming they are making those journeys by bus through choice maybe because it’s a more environmental solution maybe they have more time.

People often tell me that actually there is something lovely about being able to enjoy the scenery and just not having to be in a car.

But I’m also suspecting that there are some people who are making those journeys by bus because they don’t have other choices and because they are the people who benefit from cheaper transport in terms of what it’s costing them in a cost-of-living crisis.

I am very minded that that’s a practical consideration we also must be thinking about and I would like to see every bus heaving absolutely full to the brim I think we all would.

I was taken particularly by Cllr Bailey’s comment around making sure it’s the right service in the right place that works for the community.

I think that’s something we can all easily agree on and I would very much hope that’s where the bus strategy is taking us.

In my own council my colleagues particularly in the northwest of Cambridgeshire are very clear they are not in receipt of services. They don’t have buses; they’re just not there.

And it would be remiss of me to let the amendment go without saying to you actually getting services everywhere is a high priority as well as looking at how we maintain the services we already have.

I can agree as a principle we would like better services. We’d like services everywhere. We’d like people to have choices to use public transport and not the private car so I’m really going to struggle with the amendment.

I’ll see what other people have to say but my difficulty is the lateness of it coming before us the chance to really consider it in full.

Cllr BRIDGET SMITH (leader South Cambridgeshire District Council)

Cllr Boden started off by saying that nobody wants a precept but this precept is about paying for buses and we know because we heard actually from Miss Kelly Whitley(a question to the authority) first thing this morning that absolutely people want buses.

And we heard in rather heart-breaking terms about the consequence of not having those buses.

Of young people who can’t get to school and young people who can’t get to their places of work so we know people want buses.

Buses aren’t free and this is a way of providing the money to allow those currently subsidized services to continue.

So we ironically have a situation here and I’m just going to talk about the bus issue.

We have an extraordinary situation where we have the leaders of Fenland and East Cambridgeshire proposing no cuts to subsidize buses in their own patches but considerable cuts to buses mainly in South Cambridgeshire.

So if I can just I’ll take you note for people watching just give them because I don’t think they’ve got the other people watching this online I’ve seen what this amendment is so proposing the axing the subsidy for the 7A.

This is the Trumpington Park and Ride – Hinxton – Whittlesford Trumpington park and ride, the Citi 5 and 6 busway which is Madingley and Boxworth to Cambridge and the 19 which is Haverhill – Linton – Burrough Green bus.

And the 31 which is the Cambridge – Stapleford -Fowlmere.

The 18 Newmarket to Fulbourn, the 75 Cambridge – Orwell to Wrestlingworth (I think that’s the only bus goes to Wrestlingworth) and the number eight Cambridge- Dry Drayton – Papworth Everard.

Again, small communities very reliant on their on their buses.

It is an extraordinary situation where leaders of other councils propose significant cuts that will impact very seriously on other people’s districts.

Only three months ago we all of us spoke with one outraged voice about the Stagecoach axing of 18 services across the whole county and I think we all celebrated the fact that the combined authority was able to step in to save those services in the short term.

But we knew that it was a temporary sticking plaster. We also knew that actually if those services were to continue money had to come from somewhere in order to keep them running.

And I recall coming and telling you that I was receiving handwritten letters in spidery handwriting mainly from elderly ladies begging me to do something to save the number 18 in particular.

And this was elderly people with no car with no choice who were going to be completely isolated in very small communities and reading those letters you could hear the tears behind them.

So local authorities and combined authorities have to have heart and one of my own council’s priorities is about being a modern and caring council.

This amendment and these proposals for buses is heartless and uncaring.

I imagine that most of the people travelling on these services which are which are on this ‘hit list’ are actually people who haven’t got haven’t got a choice.

They will be marooned with all the consequences of that if they have a choice if they have got cars, it just drives them into their cars and at a time when in South Cambridgeshire our carbon emissions are 25 above the national average because of transport.

That goes against the grain of everything that you know I as a as a council leader and the combined authority want to achieve in regarding reduction of carbon emissions things

So, the bottom line here is that without this precept on top of these cuts we will also lose the 18 services which we have already subsidized and kept going and which we knew were so desperately needed.

Cllr LUCY NETHSINGHA (leader Cambridgeshire County Council)

Mostly I’m going to talk about buses just as everybody else has talked about buses because that is what the additional spending that is within this budget is all about and for me it is a really critical and really important  topic for us to be debating.

I’m actually very glad that we are having a discussion about it.

I share Cllr Boden’s frustration at the slow pace at which we are managing to improve our bus network and I’ve had many meetings with our officers  trying to speed up the pace at which we can try and improve our bus network.

And that’s what’s in this amendment.

There is a substantial cut to a number of bus services which is in this amendment which as Cllr Smith has correctly pointed out are substantially in South Cambridgeshire.

 

Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council: ” I do not believe that the best way for us to start to improve our bus network and speed up the pace at which we can deliver a reliable and desirable bus network is to start by cutting services.”

But the rationale for those cuts is based on a whole series of figures which we only got yesterday afternoon and which I need to understand a great deal better.

So I am very keen to go away and look at where those numbers have come from and to examine the source of those figures uh and what they’re based on.

If they are accurate then certainly there does need to be some work looking at those services but that does not mean that it is necessarily right to cut them.

The other point is that although a chunk of this amendment is based on removing services from a particular group of people, a much larger portion of this amendment is about funding current bus services from reserves.

And that is not long-term provision for our bus services, and it is not the way to go forward to build a better bus service for our area

It is correct that this budget does not allow for major improvements in our bus services;  this budget allows for sustaining the current network.

But I think it’s important to be aware of just how important sustaining the current network is to many of our rural residents.

Removing those bus services and for those bus services to disappear at short notice without anything to replace them we’ll leave largish numbers of people with no way to get around, no access to education, no access to employment and it will increase the rural isolation that many in our villages already suffer.

Those who live in villages already suffer from reduced opportunities to work, reduced opportunities to access health care and that is particularly the case for those who don’t have access to a car.

I’m not going to say that a pound a month increase on council tax bills is unimportant of course it’s important and I am extremely aware of the financial squeeze facing many families across Cambridgeshire.

But I am also extremely aware that if we remove vital and relied on bus services from some of those people who are the most hard up and the most vulnerable we are particularly putting additional pressure on some of those who can least afford to pay and that I think is not the right way forward for us.

This is not an amendment that takes us in the right direction in terms of providing better public transport and it’s not an amendment that provides any long-term sustainability.

It’s just a raid on reserves and I therefore I will not be supporting it.

 

ALEX PLANT (chair of the Business Board of the combined authority)

To give some observations from a business perspective and mindful I don’t have a vote on the budget itself, but I’ve been trying to listen carefully to all the points that have been made by members of the board this morning

The climate crisis is the biggest issue facing both this and future generations and to address it we’re going to have to find significant additional contributions particularly in transport somehow.

So, both in relation to mitigation and adaptations the climate change effects already before us the country and our area needs to move away from reliance on the private car.

Alex Plant

We have to therefore have better much better provision in terms of public transport options active travel options than we do at the moment now

Locally we’ve got an imperfect situation; it’s a bad situation as contributions from across the board have said this morning

And if that bad situation gets worse we see more places becoming cut off entirely from any public transport options.

The consequence of that is dire. Its dire economically, environmentally, educationally, socially and in terms of public health access and it’s especially dire for those in the lowest income brackets and for the younger and older members of communities who don’t have a car journey as an available option to them.

What’s also I think evident and for whatever reason and I don’t want to get into the reasons is at the moment we’re not going to get additional money from government to help this.

My main concern about the amendment is I think it gives us less future flexibility than the idea that the mayor has floated around the use of the precept would create.

I appreciate the difficulties of that, and I appreciate that it’s generated opposition from residents as Cllrs Boden and Bailey both reflected upon and of course in the end that’s a decision that councillors need to make.

It feels to me that the of the two options before us the precept gives us a bit more flexibility.

In the end the only way we’re going to get to where I think we all want to be is to get a far greater devolution of powers and funding to our area commensurate with its economic potential and importance and that’s something that I hope all councillors and all business community members can unite behind, but we’ve got to do something that buys us a bit of time.

Cllr WAYNE FITZGERALD (leader Peterborough City Council)

Going to Cllr Smith’s comments, I have no insight into these routes whatsoever; none of them are familiar to me so there are no particular political undertones for me certainly

So, when we talk about buses and the 7A at the top of the list £256.43 per return journey and the one that Cllr Smith pointed out the 18 Newmarket to Fulbourn there are six average weekly return trips on that bus at a cost of £76.77.

It would be cheaper to get everybody a taxi

I’m just saying because I did the same thing in Peterborough when the Liberal Democrats there suggested a route of a bus with nobody on it at a cost of about 90 quid a journey

It’s just not sustainable and I say these things because I bring us ladies and gentlemen to the letter received yesterday about best value

Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald

And it seems there is a continuation by some members on the board that doesn’t seem to understand what best value is or concerns raised within the authority in respect of procurement of services to the authority

I’d like to see more community-based demand services for these rural locations not paying £256 per passenger journey for seven passengers in a week -it is ridiculous.

Let’s think out the box as a colleague of mine says in Peterborough why aren’t we getting local transport companies or taxi firms or somebody that can do these journeys at a cost that’s not that.

It would simply be easier to ask everybody to put their hand up who needs a lift and pay for a taxi.

How can you justify best value and procurement to the local authority to the combined authority of services it just does not make sense at all.

If others want to support further taxation on the public of Cambridgeshire, then you will do so in your vote but I don’t think I can support that when there’s a credible alternative on the table today.

Cllr ANNA BAILEY

I did also want to correct something that Cllr Smith said she said without the precept we will lose the 18 Stagecoach services that is not correct our amendment I made that perfectly clear in what I said

Our amendment does away with the precept but retains the Stagecoach services because we do not have the data about passenger numbers on those services and therefore it’s not possible to make any considered informed decisions about those.

I wanted to make that absolutely clear doing away with the precept does not mean losing the Stagecoach services.

Cllr BRIDGET SMITH

Without a precept we will not have money to save those 18 Services which we subsidized before

Cllr CHRIS BODEN

We’re not here talking about killing off all the bus services.

What we’re saying is the amount the large amount of money that we are going to spend next year whether this amendment is passed or not on bus services can be spent better than we’re spending it now.

And we’re not taking the action to make sure that we review the bus services the bus contracts contract by contract to get best value for money and that’s three is

I think the debate has been very thorough and we’re giving the opportunity here for members to listen to the public, to listen to what government is telling them and to move towards a more efficient budget for next year.

A cheaper budget for next year, getting rid of the most outrageously uneconomical subsidies that are being provided and to abandon the idea of levying a mayoral precept in a year when there are so many other pressures on people’s wallets and bank accounts.

 

 

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Cambridge: Children arrested for robbery, theft, harassment, threats to kill and knife crime

Arrests made in Abbey ward and Cherry Hinton

Cllr Shepherd and Chief Supt Paul French Cllr Shepherd and Chief Supt Paul French
News5 hours ago

OPINION: Cyclists get a ‘wake up’ reminder – could it happen in Cambridgeshire?

Tannoy system piloted by NE Lincolnshire Council

CA-business-award-student-winners-with-Michael-Bates-Derrick-Holmes-Brian-Kett-and-Peter-Dennis-of-Wisbech-BPMC CA-business-award-student-winners-with-Michael-Bates-Derrick-Holmes-Brian-Kett-and-Peter-Dennis-of-Wisbech-BPMC
News6 hours ago

End of year achievements celebrated at Thomas Clarkson Academy, Wisbech

Awards presented across all departments of the academy

(left) Imogen Grant, former student at Stephen Perse Cambridge and lightweight world champion rower and (right) Bethany Shriever, former teaching assistant at Dame Bradbury’s Junior School and BMX gold medallist. Photo credit: Stephen Perse Cambridge (left) Imogen Grant, former student at Stephen Perse Cambridge and lightweight world champion rower and (right) Bethany Shriever, former teaching assistant at Dame Bradbury’s Junior School and BMX gold medallist. Photo credit: Stephen Perse Cambridge
News7 hours ago

Stephen Perse Cambridge schools cheer on their Olympic hopefuls

'Great role models who continue to inspire our students'

Horsefair car park. Town Centre, Wisbech Tuesday 23 July 2024. Picture by Terry Harris Horsefair car park. Town Centre, Wisbech Tuesday 23 July 2024. Picture by Terry Harris
News13 hours ago

Horsefair Wisbech 35,000 sq ft discount store and new car park ‘will boost footfall’

NewRiver offer massive vote of confidence in Wisbech

Trio of Cambs Lib Dem MPs (from left) Ian Sollom, the new MP for St Neots & Mid Cambridgeshire, MP for South Cambridgeshire, Pippa Heylings and Charlotte Cane, MP for Ely & East Cambridgeshire Trio of Cambs Lib Dem MPs (from left) Ian Sollom, the new MP for St Neots & Mid Cambridgeshire, MP for South Cambridgeshire, Pippa Heylings and Charlotte Cane, MP for Ely & East Cambridgeshire
News15 hours ago

Cambridgeshire MPs vote for action on sewage dumping, cost of living and NHS in King’s Speech

Cambridgeshire Lib Dem MPs challenge on key issues

Dr Nick Valley – part of his ‘memory bank’ of photographs from a long and distinguished career, many of them spent serving the people of March, Cambridgeshire Dr Nick Valley – part of his ‘memory bank’ of photographs from a long and distinguished career, many of them spent serving the people of March, Cambridgeshire
News16 hours ago

‘Thank you all from bottom of my heart for all your loyalty and support and I will not forget you’

I have tried my best to follow Elaine Stutard's legacy

Five Dances, choreographed by Arielle Smith, is a modern ballet with a large cast of men and women dressed identically Five Dances, choreographed by Arielle Smith, is a modern ballet with a large cast of men and women dressed identically
News17 hours ago

London City Ballet ‘fast, vibrant, inspiring’ at Cambridge Arts Theatre

Classical and contemporary ballet with the freshest possible edge

24 complaints made about Peterborough City councillors since February. PHOTO: Terry Harris 24 complaints made about Peterborough City councillors since February. PHOTO: Terry Harris
News1 day ago

24 conduct complaints made about Peterborough city councillors in just 6 months

One complaint relates to postal vote handling

Workers at Asda Wisbech are angry over a litany of issues Workers at Asda Wisbech are angry over a litany of issues
News1 day ago

Asda workers at Wisbech strike over ‘cuts in hours, bullying management and poor training’

Asda rejects the claims made by the union