Letter from Cllr Robin Parker CC to the Comet
Whilst myself, and the other 15 Liberal Democrat county councillors on Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) will of course take note of the responses to the current public consultation on possible bus service cuts, my initial view is to oppose these cuts, which have been suggested by the dominant Conservative group, who have 46 county councillors.
If implemented, the cuts would badly affect, for example:
(a) residents who do not or cannot drive or do not have private transport, including many young people;
(b) the elderly, disabled, vulnerable and poorest residents;
(c) people who have to work outside normal office hours;
(d) people visiting friends or relatives in hospital;
(e) grandparents and others visiting their families on Sundays;
(f) the number of cars on the road, with all the resultant pollution, congestion and wear and tear on the highways system, because residents with cars will use them more than they otherwise might have done.
The facts are not very clear from the information supplied by HCC on the consultation, and it is important that these are made clear to the public. The suggested cuts are to bus services in the county after 18.30 Monday to Saturday and all day Sunday. However, it is not all such services within those times that would be cut, but only those which are currently subsidized by HCC within those times. Commercially profitable services, which by definition are not subsidized by HCC, would of course run as long as the bus company continues to judge them to be commercially viable. This needs to be made clear to avoid unnecessary concern that all services are to be cut after 18.30 Monday to Saturday and on Sundays.
For example, for the SB1 service, which serves my Chells Divison, the services would be cut:
(a) after 19.50 to end of the day on Mondays to Saturdays;
(b) and from 7.30 – 8.30 and from 17.50 to end of the day on Sundays.
Other services would be affected at different times. HCC have not issued a detailed list of how each service would be affected. Therefore they have failed to give the full facts to residents. Their web site just shows the routes that would be affected at some times after 18.30 Mondays to Saturdays and on Sundays, without giving the important details.
It is certainly true that, in common with all other councils, HCC has to make revenue savings, which are a direct result of the necessary cuts in revenue support grants from central government, to help reduce the deficit.
However, these proposed cuts are not a very good way to save money and over many years the Liberal Democrats have suggested other possible ways in which HCC could save money, including improvements to highways and capital procurement schemes, reductions in corporate publications, publicity and associated staff, reductions in management posts, better use of existing buildings and reductions in staff travel costs.
It is important that residents who are concerned about these possible cuts should respond soon to the public consultation on it, which ends on 8 October. You can find the consultation on the HCC web site and respond on line or in writing.