Labour backs plan to take control of buses
A BID to take control of Bristol's buses has been backed by the Labour Party.
Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle admitted setting up a Quality Contract remained "difficult in practice" and slammed bus operators for their resistance to the scheme.
In her keynote speech at the party conference in Manchester yesterday, Ms Eagle also said councils should be given more support in setting up 20mph speed limit zones, which are set to be spread out across Bristol.
The Liberal Democrat-run city council wants to set up a bus quality contract, a franchise arrangement which would allow it to control timetables, routes and fares.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
It would be the first council in the country to do so, under powers introduced more than a decade ago by the previous Labour government. But MPs have warned of "significant obstacles" in the process, while operator First has criticised the plans.
Ms Eagle told party members: "In government we passed legislation to make it possible.
"But it remains difficult in practice. When the Integrated Transport Authority in Tyne and Wear decided to get a better deal for passengers, how did Stagecoach react?
"They threatened to close depots, sack drivers and take buses off the road overnight. To the bus companies, I say: You operate successfully in a regulated system right across Europe, and you can do so here."
Ms Eagle also said Lib Dem Transport Minister Norman Baker had "stacked the rules on bus funding against transport authorities that pursue reform" and called on him to "restore a level playing field".
The Post reported last month that the government had said new funding available under the Better Bus Areas scheme will not be available to areas that pursue Quality Contracts. City councillor Tim Kent, who is in charge of transport, has said he thought his Lib Dem colleague had made a mistake.
Ms Eagle also told the conference she believed local authorities should be supported in rolling out 20 mph zones.
Bristol City Council is currently consulting on plans to implement the low limit in every residential street after piloting it in three areas.
Ms Eagle also hit out at rail fare increases of up to 11 per cent, and called for a raft of cycle safety measures.