Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Latest on the No 16 Bus route petition

What a week!

Firstly, I would like to re-iterate that at no time did I instigate the information regarding the cessation of route 16 by Ipswich Buses.
I was contacted by a lady on the Royals which was quickly followed by several others. I decided to contact Ipswich Buses as did a colleague of mine - same answer, 'Yes we are stopping the service but we may be able to find funds for a reduced service' was generally the idea. Not good enough, I thought.

I literally jumped into action, dropped everything I was doing including work I had planned for the business that I run, to immediately start the petition. Some residents didn't know about the cessation but many had heard it from the staff of IB eg bus drivers. Communication of this was terrible including not warning me beforehand.

Now Labour councillors are trying to discredit me, despite the fact I have been a councillor for 7 years and have never blamed Labour for anything in previous leaflets, preferring to just state what I have been doing.

I started a windfarm survey last year with Ben Gummer MP without mentioning anything about the labour position, preferring to concentrate on what's important, even though I know many of them are FOR the development, because they have stated so publicly, and I was the only councillor in SW Ipswich that has publicly come out against the development. Residents make their own mind up when they read either parties literature. I work hard in my ward and people know that.

So what's happened since? Well, I am hearing conflicting views and still nowhere nearing knowing the solution, with some labour councillors saying it will carry on with Ipswich Buses and a subsidy and some saying it will be a private company. Neither option tells me if it is a reduced or status quo service.
Should I just say 'Oh ok then, let's forget the petition? (I've got 140 signatures so far just from Fountains Road and The Royals - they are dropping on my doormat every day). No of course not. They have a voice and I am giving them a vehicle.

The next thing I'd like to clarify is that Labour keep saying I voted against having funds for a bus subsidy. I DID NOT. They are talking about an amount of £ 140k that was included as part of the yearly budget. We had put in an alternative budget and so it would've been really stupid of me to vote for their budget and then for our alternative budget! There has never been any stand alone vote for bus subsidy and even when we tried to clarify what the £ 140k was for, we got a vague answer that was politic-speak. Take a look for yourself below. Cllr Carnall tried to get a categoric reply, in his supplementary, which Cllr Smart still did not answer but it would've been so easy just to say - 'No I can confirm none of it is to plug any holes in IB pensions'..

Even if I felt reassured, there were several things we did not agree in their budget so we would still have voted against theirs and for our alternative one. The £ 140k is a moot point and is being used by some labour councillor to discredit me, one in a telephone conversation with the leader of the council. Take a look at comments in my last post. Believe me, I will never become as political and as devious as that!

Also notice the other bits I've highlighted below, which shows that Labour consider themselves responsible for Ipswich Buses. Is it not a bit rich now to claim that I am blaming the wrong people?!

The truth is they do not like me holding them to account - It is my job and I will do so for as long as I am a councillor and, actually, even if I am not!  If they want to tell me now that running the buses is nothing to do with them, then the next time they use it to electioneer, I will again hold them to account.

I've learnt never to assume anything and to speak and write in a very clear direct fashion using 'clean' language so that everyone knows where they stand. I don't think this falls into that category so now to the question at council and more importantly the supplementary - you make up your own mind -

Madam Mayor: Question 4 Councillor Carnall to Councillor Smart

Councillor Carnall: Thank you Madam Mayor. The Administration's budget
for 2012/13 contains provision for £140,000 to be spent on supporting public
transport in the town. How does the Portfolio Holder intend to spend this

Madam Mayor: Councillor Smart to reply.
Councillor Smart: Yes thank you Madam Mayor. There have been a
number of options that we’ve been considering in discussion with the major
local bus operators about this, looking at a variety of possibilities on
infrastructure improvements and some revenue support type of measures {what does this mean?}.
Unfortunately, as I am sure Councillor Carnall is aware, we’ve got thanks to
the goodness of the 1985 Transport Act which unfortunately encourages this
sort of thing we’ve got a bus war on at the moment in the town and it’s rather
a sensitive area because it’s absolutely essential that whatever we do is not
perceived to provide an advantage for one company over another. I certainly
look forward this activity settling down into some kind of steady state going
forward so that we can plan public transport properly in this town.

Madam Mayor: Do you have a supplementary Councillor Carnall?4

Councillor Carnall: Just to clarify for me perhaps Councillor Smart will
confirm that the money will be available to support the services operated by
any bus company serving Ipswich and will not just be an excuse to subsidise
the pension deficit of Ipswich Buses Ltd?

Councillor Smart: Madam Mayor that did sound like a supplementary
question had been written before I gave the answer to the original question. I
thought I had made it absolutely clear that discussions had taken place with
both the major operators about possible moves that we could make which are
seen to be fair to all operators. {my comment to this is Does this sound like clarity on the £140k or just a general action point?}

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