Lib Dems Under Fire Over Train Subsidies

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Mojo

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Bristol's ruling councillors have been accused of hypocrisy over their stance on the row about the city's suburban railways.Labour party members blamed the city council's decision to withdraw a subsidy for the Severn Beach railway line as starting the rot which threatens to damage the route's existence.

Group leader Helen Holland said the Lib Dem cabinet should be doing more to enhance the service and promote rail use.

Dennis Brown, executive member in charge of transport, said the service was out of the council's hands and was the responsibility of First Great Western.

He is due to meet representatives of the transport giant today to discuss the future of the suburban lines. But he said the council was committed to maintaining the lines for the amount of demand which existed and pointed the finger at central Government for investing too heavily in other forms of transport.

Ms Holland said: "I find it astonishing that the Lib Dem cabinet councillor in charge of transport for Bristol, who claims to be a member of the Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways, does not see the damage he caused last year by axing this subsidy.

"It is exactly as we said, that the removal of the city council subsidy to the Severn Beach Railway line has started the rot which threatens to seriously damage the use of this line for commuters to Bristol city centre.

"We warned that local authority contributions were vital to this commuter service, but Councillor Brown insisted that First Great Western could run it with no subsidy.

"Other, more enlightened councils have continued to subsidise their suburban train services, even after the new franchises were awarded, and some have even increased their grants to the train operator.

"Councillor Brown and his Lib Dem colleagues are keen to blame everything on the Government, but in fact they have the power to improve this potential commuter line themselves. It would keep cars off the road and could easily be funded locally."

Mr Brown said: "It is not a case of us reinstating the subsidy because it was taken over as part of the First franchise.

"A lot of the problems are to do with central Government directing its attention to bus transport rather than subsidy grants for what is a much more expensive system, namely rail.

"It's environmentally a very desirable form of transport but it's difficult because there are major sums involved.

"We are committed to getting an effective service which is not one which requires extreme subsidy.

"How far we can enhance the service needs to be carefully looked at."
The Lib Dems claim to be all that on transport, but they are not. Bristol has less than half the budget for public transport, per head than other English core cities. And it shows - the worst traffic congestion out of any of the UK Core Cities.

A group I'm a member of (http://www.fosbr.org.uk/) has support from all the political parties (except the Lib Dems) and over the next few weeks, before the budget is decided many events with the council are being organised. I'm speaking in front of all 70 councillors next Tuesday :fucyc: - Dennis Brown (Transport Supremo) refuses to do anything - he won't even stump up for station improvements that would cost less than £500!

Every day for the last few months - letters critisising the Transport Policy have appeared in the local rag - and with the support of opposing politicians, they may listen.
 
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theblackwatch

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The subject of rail subsidies and funding being provided locally is something which is going to have to be looked into by the relevant authorities and FGW. When then 'Northern' franchise began in December '04, it was made clear that any rolling stock investment would have to be done in conjunction with partners such as the PTEs and local authorities. Last year, we got 6 additional Class 158s, largely funded by Yorkshire Forward (the Regional Development Agency charged with improving the Yorkshire and Humber economy) and Metro (WYPTE - which co-ordinates public transport in West Yorkshire).

Good luck with your speech next week!
 

Dennis

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"withdraw a subsidy for the Severn Beach railway line as starting the rot which threatens to damage the route's existence". What rot? Wasn't aware that there was any.
 
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