Category Archives: Local Councils

Automatic renewal plan for senior bus passes in South Yorkshire

Older people in Sheffield will no longer have to renew their bus passes. From January 1 the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, or SYPTE, will roll out an automatic renewal scheme for senior concession passes. The trial scheme will run for a year and will apply to all passes that expire after December 31 this year. SYPTE executive director Stephen Edwards said: “We are pleased to introduce the new auto renewal pass process for English National Concessionary Travel Scheme pass holders. “The process will remove the need for our customers to reapply for their pass, making it even easier for them to continue to benefit from free and discounted travel across South Yorkshire.” Passengers currently have to renew their pass every five years, either in person, on the phone or online. Once the trial period starts, all they need to do is wait for their new pass to come through the letter box. The only time anyone will need to contact SYPTE is if they have moved house or need to update their details or photo – or to apply for their first pass. If the trial is successful, automatic renewal will become permanent.

Sheffield bus services

Read more at: http://www.thestar.co.uk/business/automatic-renewal-plan-for-senior-bus-passes-in-south-yorkshire-1-8187636
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Our comment: Not the first to do this, but hopefully to be followed by many more local councils

West Berkshire bus passes will no longer be valid before 9.30 causing confusion in Berkshire

Both West Berkshire and Reading pensioners lose out in the changes to bus pass concessions resulting from a subsidy cut by West Berkshire Council

A cut in West Berkshire Council’s subsidy to free pensioner bus passes will mean a different deal for passengers living in Reading and West Berkshire in future.

Although Reading’s concessionary bus passes are unchanged, the West Berkshire changes mean Reading concessionary bus passes will only be valid on buses boarded in West Berkshire after 9.30am from this Sunday, May 1.
Reading pass holders are being given advanced warning of the change, which comes after West Berkshire Council withdrew its subsidy and reverted to the National Concessionary Bus Travel Scheme.

It means free travel for concessionary pass holders boarding buses in West Berkshire will only be allowed after 9.30am.

In Reading borough, the ability to use concessionary passes from 9am is still in place.

The changes being implemented by West Berkshire Council from Sunday, May 1 will also affect companion pass holders who will no longer be able to travel for free on a bus in West Berkshire at any time.

This means a Reading companion pass holder and their companion boarding a bus in Reading borough can both travel for free to places like Sainsbury’s in Calcot for example, or to Newbury.
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Elderly patients afraid to complain in ‘care’ homes

Hundreds of thousands of elderly people are “suffering in silence” because they are too afraid to complain about their treatment in care homes and hospitals, a government watchdog says.
According to a report published today, a third of over 65s who experienced below standard care did not speak up because they were concerned their future treatment would be compromised.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman said it had received far fewer complaints than it would expect from older people, given their frequent use of the NHS and social care services.
“Older people are some of the most frequent and vulnerable users of health and social care services but are the silent majority when it comes to complaining.”
Julie Mellor
Of the ten million people aged over 65 in Britain, the watchdog found 76 per cent used the NHS this year.
But of the 14 per cent who were unhappy with their care, only half of that number complained.

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Elderly residents accuse council of “bullying” to make them pay as much as £13,700 to reach their own homes

Elderly residents have accused a council of “bullying” them by trying to make them pay as much as £13,700 to reach their own houses.

And now Shepway District Council is threatening to block the access altogether unless the dispute is resolved.

Three couples and a widow living in Green Lane, Hythe, use two bridges over a dyke to get to their four bungalows.

This means crossing over council-owned land, which had a charge of just over £1 a year for all four households under a 1950s lease but, now that lease has expired Shepway is trying to charge each household £500 a year rent or a one-off payment of £13,700 for permanent access.

One resident, Sue Page, 61, said: “I would call this bullying and intimidation. You don’t dare to even go out because you wonder even if the bridge will be lifted when we come back.

“It is a nightmare, it has cause us sleepless nights.”

Most of the residents, aged from their 60s to 80s, have health problems such as disability from industrial injury, osteoarthritis and heart condition. One is a cancer survivor.

The four homes, plus a fifth, had been under a 50-year lease, from January 1957, to have access through the land, owned by the then Hythe Borough Council, for a guinea (£1.05) a year between them. That would be a rent of 21p each per year in modern decimal currency but Shepway became landowners after replacing the borough council in 1974 and the lease expired in January 2007.

The fifth household bought a permanent right of access from the council for £12,500 in 2011.

In April 2014 Shepway wrote to the remaining householders saying it wanted to charge them. The high price demanded was based on soaring land prices since the 1950s and following advice from chartered surveyors.

But the sums expected have yo-yoed.

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Trending Mad Friday Tim Peake Syria bombing ISIS Terrorism Technology Money Travel Fashion Mums Home News UK News Hospitals Pensioners to be charged £26 ‘falling fee’ to be helped back to their feet by local council

A district council said it would introduce the fee on top of the existing cost of a subscription to its service for elderly people who require home care.

Pensioners who need help being helped back to their feet after a fall at home will be charged £26 by their local council.

Tendring District Council said it would introduce the fee as part of its Careline service for elderly people who require home care.

An elderly rights campaign group has described the charge as “shocking” and equivalent to a ‘falling fine’.

The £25.92 annual charge means a carer will come to pick an elderly resident up after a fall.

Our comment: This sounds crazy, older people will be scared to pull the chord when in need.


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Changes will be made to High Street chaos kerb after disability charity blasts “death trap” design

Insight Gloucestershire claim the final product is “absolutely not what was discussed” and said its suggestions for the stretch were ignored.

Resource centre advisor Marc Gulwell, who represented the blind and visual impairment charity at council consultations for around 18 months, said use of similar colours for the brickwork makes “no sense at all”.

Mr Gulwell added in an email to bosses: “I feel absolutely let down by this whole situation and I am seriously questioning my involvement in what I thought was going to be a worthwhile group with people that would actually listen to us and use our ideas.”

Dozens of people have tripped on the kerb, including an 86-year-old woman who was hospitalised.

The county council initially insisted the new pavements were safe, but after a Tewkesbury woman broke her finger it said another safety review would happen.

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STUNNED pensioner had her bus pass confiscated and told: “our records show that you’re dead.”

A STUNNED pensioner had her bus pass confiscated and was then told: “I’m sorry, our records show that you’re dead.”

Maria Illingworth, who is 70 years old and a grandmother-of-four, said she “almost passed out” when a town hall worker said they thought she was deceased.

She said she had been “embarrassed and confused” when the bus driver insisted he had to take her pass from her and is calling on Bournemouth council to ensure the same mistake is not made with anyone else.

The problem arose when she tried to board a Yellow Bus to take her from her Hengistbury Head home to her doctor’s surgery. She had used her free bus pass two days before with no problem but this time it triggered an alert to the driver that it could be being used fraudulently.

He said he had no choice but to confiscate it and Mrs Illingworth had to pay to board the bus.

“It was so embarrassing,” she said. “The bus was full and everyone was looking at me and I just couldn’t understand what the problem could be. It was lucky I had my bag with me and enough money to get on the bus.”

She went straight to Bournemouth town hall and waited to see an advisor.

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Department for Transport: no plans to withdraw statutory entitlement to concessionary bus travel

In our post of 17th November under the title”Are local authorities creaming off bus pass and the Bus Operators Grant to subsidise other services?” and so we wrote to the Department of Transport expressing our concerns. This is the reply received:

“Your correspondence has now been forwarded to the Buses and Taxis division of the Department for Transport and I have been asked to reply.

Firstly, may I assure you that there are no plans either to withdraw the statutory entitlement to concessionary bus travel or to introduce means testing to assess eligibility for the scheme. The right to free bus travel for both older and disabled people is enshrined in primary legislation and the Government has committed to preserving the current statutory entitlement to concessionary bus travel in this Parliament.

Local buses are the most commonly used mode of public transport, particularly for older people and the purpose of providing free local bus travel England-wide is to ensure that no older or disabled person in England need be prevented from bus travel by cost alone. Indeed, for many older and disabled people a free local bus service can be a lifeline, providing access to healthcare and other essential services as well as allowing people to visit family and friends, stay active and avoid isolation.

The Government is focusing its efforts on finding efficiencies in delivering the bus travel concession, rather than by cutting back on the entitlement offered to older and disabled people. A number of reforms have been introduced including the movement of administrative responsibility for the scheme to upper tier authorities, mainly county councils, and the gradual realigning of the age of eligibility to the state pension age. This should bring economies of scale.

With regard to rural bus services, the Coalition Government is committed to supporting buses and recognises the importance of public transport for communities. Inadequate transport provision is a very real concern and can be a barrier to the prosperity of all, particularly people living in rural areas.

It might be helpful if I explain that around three-quarters of bus services outside London are provided on a commercial basis by private operators. Decisions such as where to run services, the frequency of those services, the type of vehicle used, the level of fares or agreed local concessions are mainly a matter for the operator concerned.

Where there is not enough demand for a bus route to be commercially viable in its own right, all local authorities have powers to subsidise bus services. Around one-fifth of all bus services are subsidised in this way.

Clearly, in these very difficult economic times Government has to consider where funding is best targeted. However, in the Spending Review the Government confirmed that the funding which it provides to support buses will be protected for 2015/16.

Moreover, reforms to the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) will ensure that Government bus funding is put to the best possible use. In particular, devolving BSOG funding for services tendered by local authorities outside London should give those authorities, including Tyne and Wear PTE, more say over how that funding is spent and will allow them to identify their priorities, for instance services in rural areas. The funding stream will be ring-fenced until April 2017.

Ultimately it is for local authorities, working in partnership with their communities, to identify the right transport solutions that meet the economic and environmental challenges faced in their areas and deliver the greatest benefits for their communities.”

Our comment: The answer doesn’t give any assurances about the way in which local authorities use funding for bus passes and bus services, but does give some information e.g four-fifths of local councils do not subsidise bus services.

Are local authorities creaming off bus pass and the Bus Operators Grant to subsidise other services?

Up and down the country bus services are being cut to reduce costs – all the while making bus pass users less able to use their bus pass. The problems seem at their worst in rural areas where bus services are much less frequent than in urban areas.

This raises the concern that the funding which is provided by the Department for Transport is being creamed off to support other services and the same may be the case with the Bus Service Operators Grant.

We are getting very regular complaints from people in many areas of England about the decision to make people wait until they are 66 to get a bus pass, and people fear that when they finally get a bus pass there will be few bus services left to use them on. We can’t help thinking that politicians realise how important pensioners are when it comes to the ballot box, so they don’t dare talk down the bus pass, but are finding other ways of reducing the bus pass cost, i.e. b y reducing bus services.

This ignores the many good reason for retaining the bus pass, including the recent study which reported Every £1 spent on concessionary fare bus passes generates more than £2.87 for wider economy. With this in mind we are writing to the Department for Transport to ask what assurance they can give that funding to local authorities for bus passes, and the Bus Service Operators Grant is not being siphoned off by local authorities. We await their reply.

BUS service cuts described as “disgusting” by Fareham Green Party

The controversial changes, which will were rubber-stamped at a Hampshire County Council meeting, mean that pensioners will now only be able to use their bus passes after 9.30am from April next year.

Additionally there will be cuts in Fareham affecting four routes through the area, as well as other services across the county.

And members of Fareham Green Party have attacked the cuts, saying they are “economically and socially damaging”.

Green Party campaigner Miles Grindey said: “It is just disgusting – how is this democratic?

“We have spoken to many individuals across the borough who have lived there all their lives and they are appalled at this lack of transport across Fareham.

“Not everyone can afford a car. Many pensioners are still calling for a bus to Fareham Community Hospital and many young people are still calling for better bus services to Whiteley so they can get to work.”

The services affected include the F1 route from Fareham to Highlands shops, where the Sunday service will have its funding withdrawn, and the 11 from Fareham to Gosport and Alverstoke, which will have its Saturday funding cut.

Additionally the 21 from Fareham to Cheque Farm will no longer stop at Lee-on-the-Solent and will not run on Saturday evenings, while the 28 from Fareham to Warsash will be combined with the 26, meaning the Locks Heath to Warsash section will be withdrawn.

Seán Woodward, executive member for economy, transport and environment, said that he is giving an exemption to older bus users in rural areas where there are no other buses until after 10.30am.
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Public transport cuts loom in North Yorkshire – how much further can they cut>

A task force looking at the future of bus services which are a vital lifeline in rural communities in North Yorkshire has called for a radical rethink of the way services are provided in the light of a major squeeze in funding.

Senior members of North Yorkshire County Council have already agreed to slash bus subsidies from £4.4m to £2.4m and a report prepared for councillors warns there will be a further review of the cash the authority pays out to help keep the services running which could lead to more cuts.

The authority’s executive will meet on Tuesday to discuss a report put together by a task group on the future of rural transport in the county. It says in the face of Government budget cuts a radical rethink of how services are provided is needed.

It urges developing a network of volunteer car schemes to offer lifts to local people, recommends considering whether the public should be allowed to use school buses and urges lobbying Government for a change in concessionary passes which mean the authority is helping to subsidise transport sometimes helping tourists from outside the county.

County Councillor Robert Heseltine, chairman of the task group, said: “In this era of public sector austerity our first priority has to be to provide transport services that enable our local communities to access essential services. This will to some degree involve managing expectations about what the county council can and cannot fund with its reduced budget for supporting subsidised bus services.”
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Our comment:Heaven help people in rural North Yorkshire who depend on public transport to get around. The services available in such rural areas already bears no comparison to that enjoyed by people in rural areas
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Herts CC to cut £1m from bus services -Save Our Buses Hertfordshire handing in a petition of 3,500 signatures Wednesday 8th Oct

This week, residents in Hertfordshire are fighting to save bus services across their county. Hertfordshire County Council are proposing to cut almost a million pounds from their bus services, removing buses on many routes after 6.30pm Monday to Saturday and cutting buses altogether for some routes on Sundays. Towns including St Albans, Watford, Stevenage and Welwyn Garden City would be affected.

Residents are hugely concerned about how they will get to and from work, college, health services and shops if this goes ahead. Over 2,000 people have already responded to the council’s consultation on the cuts, which closes this Wednesday.

Hertfordshire Bus Service Petition

Local campaigners Save Our Buses Hertfordshire will be handing in a petition of around 3,500 signatures at Hertford County Hall on Wednesday at midday and we’ll be with them to join the protest against these cuts.

Action: Please sign the petition if you support Hertfordshire’s bus services.

Join the petition hand-in if you live locally: Come along to Hertford County Hall this Wednesday at 12pm – we’ll be very visible! Visit the Facebook event for more information.

Read why local bus services are so precious here and find out what Hertfordshire bus campaigners have been doing to protect theirs on our website. And don’t forget, if you’re concerned about bus cuts in your area, let us know.