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MPs mostly silent on ‘detrimental’ Stagecoach bus cuts

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MP Lucy Frazer – appointed Minister of State for Transport earlier this month – is ‘deeply concerned’ by proposals to axe bus services across Cambridgeshire.

The SE Cambs MP expressed her feelings earlier today about Stagecoach’s plan to axe 18 Cambridgeshire routes at the end of October.

“Whether it is the commute to work, the journey to school or to visit family and friends, my constituents rely on bus services for their essential daily travel,” she said.

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“As the local MP, I am deeply concerned by Stagecoach’s proposals to axe a number of different bus routes in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough from the end of October.”

She added: “Stagecoach’s plans will have a detrimental impact on my constituents and the Cambridgeshire area if they go ahead, and as the local MP, I am raising this issue with them and the Combined Authority as a matter of urgency.”

Labour spokesperson Tim Andrews said: “Perhaps somebody who is a transport minister could look into this and see what action could be taken to prevent Stagecoach axing these services?

“The Combined Authority subsidised Stagecoach throughout Covid and as soon as the subsidy has ended, they have axed these services.

“Stagecoach has a lot to answer for.

“Also, certain transport ministers could maybe revisit the decision to refuse the Combined Authority’s bid for buses and active transport for the next year?

“Overturning that perverse decision might help a great deal.”

So, what do the rest of Cambridgeshire’s MPs think about the cuts to bus services?

Anthony Browne, the MP for South Cambridgeshire, didn’t specifically mention bus cuts in a social media post.

He wrote today: “Lots of good reporting in the Cambridge Independent today on congestion charging, bus closures, and the work being done to protect our waterways and chalk streams!

“Good to see more coverage of my campaign to get tougher on water companies by banning those who are fined for illegally dumping sewage from paying dividends to shareholders or bonuses to senior managers.

“I maintain sewage discharge is a disgusting practice, which is why I met with the Environment Secretary numerous times, including after the Duke of Wellington’s amendment on sewage discharge, to suggest proposals that were later voted into law to place a clear legal duty on water companies to progressively reduce sewage discharges from storm overflows.”

He added: “It is such a shame that the Liberal Democrats, who voted against those proposals in Parliament that we passed, are still putting our chalk streams at risk by concreting over our countryside with thousands upon thousands of new homes.”

Peterborough NW MP Shailesh Vara, Peterborough MP Paul Bristow, NE Cambs MP Steve Barclay, Hunts MP Jonathan Djanogly and Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner have not issued their response, thus far.

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However, Cambridge Labour Party issued this statement.

“Labour city and county councillors have joined together to condemn cuts to local bus services, announced today by Stagecoach East Managing Director, Darren Roe.

“They are arguing that the imminent loss of services will deprive residents in villages and towns across the region of important lifelines, and risk increasing road traffic.”

Cllr. Anna Smith, Leader of Cambridge City Council said she added her support to comments made by Mayor Nik Johnson in a Combined Authority statement condemning the move and pointing out that Stagecoach have received government funding to improve, not cut services.

“Like Mayor Nik Johnson I am appalled that Stagecoach are accepting government money to protect bus services at the same time as they are cutting those services. The case for bus franchising is becoming more compelling by the day,” she said.

Our residents and workers deserve so much better.”

Cllr. Dave Baigent, Labour’s city representative on the Greater Cambridge Partnership has also opposed the cuts to services that are some residents’ only means of transport.

“These proposals are disastrous for residents, particularly those who are vulnerable, as well as those without cars and those who soon will be unable to afford cars,” he said. 

“It needs a clear response from all politicians, and I am calling on all councillors to get behind the mayor in challenging Stagecoach, to do the work that is needed to bring forward franchising – and to do whatever they can to improve the situation for residents.”

Cllr. Katie Thornburrow, the Executive Councillor for Planning, and Infrastructure on Cambridge City Council echoed these comments.

She said: “We are very concerned at the impact these cuts will have on our communities, and in all our conversations with Stagecoach we have consistently made clear our concerns over the lack of a reliable service and communications with affected residents.

“We will continue to push for franchising to get residents the high quality, reliable bus service that they need.”

Cllr. Elisa Meschini, Deputy Leader of the County Council, pledged to work with city colleagues to fight back against the cuts and to protect vital services.

“It is time for us in Cambridgeshire to have a serious, grown-up conversation about what options might be on the table to ensure these vital services are safeguarded and expanded,” she said.

“Doing nothing is not an option. I want to work with Mayor Nik Johnson to reverse the decline in public transport and make his vision of a bus network fully under local authority control a reality.”

EDITOR’S FOOTNOTE: Email your thoughts to john@cambsnews.co.uk

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