PENSIONERS waved placards as they staged a protest against council plans to demolish a city centre toilet block – but their pleas fell on deaf ears.
Members of the North Staffs Pensioners’ Convention descended on Stoke-on-Trent City Council yesterday to show their opposition to the proposals for Crown Bank toilets in Hanley.
They were supporting a motion to full council from Labour councillor Joan Bell, which called on the authority to refurbish and reopen the facilities.
But despite their backing, the motion was rejected 21 votes to 16 after being opposed by Conservative and City Independent members.
The coalition groups say the toilets, which were closed in November, attracted anti-social behaviour and were not safe to keep open.
Imagine the scene – a couple leaving the Hampton Court Flower Show attempt to board a London bus. They tender their bus passes issued in Gloucestershire but the bus driver refuses it as being invalid on London buses. Feeling very unhappy about this the elderly couple, anxious to get back to the place they are staying, offer to pay the fare but that too is refused, as no cash is now taken on London buses. Obviously bus pass holders visiting London will not have bought an Oyster Card if they intend to just use bus services for transport.
We are sorry to report that get messages at regular intervals from people with an ENCTS scheme bus pass issued in England but outside London where the bus driver has erroneously refused to accept the bus pass. This places the bus pass holder in an impossible position, since the London buses no longer accept cash.
Sadly these are not the only cases where bus drivers don’t seem to understand the rules – a resident in Somerset recently reported to us that on a trip to Devon using a Somerset Bus Pass they were made to pay the bus fare to the Somerset border. This is clearly not how the ENCTS scheme is intended to work.
May we say we don’t wish to vilify bus drivers who generally do a first class job cheerfully. We do feel very strongly though that those responsible for the provision of local bus services have a responsibility to ensure that their drivers are given clear information on the acceptance of bus passes. The position is more acute in London, since the refusal to accept a valid bus pass puts older people in a very bad situation.
If you encounter any difficulty getting your bus pass accepted we would like to hear about it – please use the ‘reply’ box below.
Comment received from Devon Bus Pass office:
You may not be aware that Devon County Council has excluded service 300 from the concessionary travel scheme as of 1st April 2014 as the service is used primarily for tourism.
This means that anyone boarding in Devon will have to pay a fare to the county border regardless of where the pass was issued.
Attached is a link to our scheme document for 2014. http://www.journeydevon.info/files/2014/02/DCC-Concessionary-Travel-Scheme-1-April-2014.pdf?9e396a
As previosuly reported, Londoners aged 60 will be entitled to free travel on the capital’s transport system again.
The government raised the eligibility age for free travel in line with the state retirement age for women from 2010.
This meant people had to be at least 61 to qualify.
But Mayor Boris Johnson pledged to lower the age of eligibility for all Londoners to 60.
Transport for London (TfL) is introducing the new 60+ Oyster Photocard scheme from 1 November.
It allows free travel on all TfL services and some national rail services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from the user’s 60th birthday.
Where to apply information “60+ London concession” on London Transport website (applications begin 17th October 2012)
Pensioners who are confident with using the internet should be hired to help other elderly people in order to help prevent them from becoming isolated, a Conservative think tank has said.
Policy Exchange has suggested around 1,000 senior ‘silver sidekicks’ could be employed on a wage of up to £30,000 a year to show their peers how to use the internet.
The proposed policy could save the UK taxpayer nearly £75 million because the authorities would be able to pursue plans of moving certain operations online, according to advisory group.
Key day to day functions like paying pensions could possibly be transferred to the net.
Policy Exchange argues the new scheme should be introduced in order to keep the elderly from becoming isolated.
Sarah Fink, who authored the report, said: ‘It is important that this network is made up of people who are able to relate to the particular needs of someone who has never used the internet before.
Our comment: We see the point with so much these days requiring access to the Internet for information, processing applications and much more. And with postage rates having been hiked so much of late, there are lots of opportunities to avoid using the post when an email will do. £30,000 per year for trainers ? I’ll believe it when I see it !
The following comment has recently been received from a visitor to our website.
“I have today received my second new ‘Centro’ area bus pass. The delight for me is not just that it is free, as I would happily buy it if it was for sale, it is the fact that it is universally accepted by all bus operators. I often see news items where the cost of providing the free pass is the only issue that matters, but it is the convenience of it’s universal acceptance which is paramount for me. With so many areas in the UK, like mine here in Warwickshire, where there are so many independant bus operators, there is no current substitute. I do wish that our Members of parliament who get onto their high horse on the subject of the high cost concessionary bus travel, would take this matter seriously & offer a purchasable alternative. ‘Centro’ do offer a regional ticket within the confines of the West Midlands, but for anyone living close to the Warwickshire boarder, it is of very limited use.”
Our comment: Examples of the type of ticket mentioned can be seen on West Midlands website – they are we think primarily aimed at those who don’t qualify yet for an older persons bus pass, which in the West Midlands would cover train services also. Of course many rural areas don’t have the mix of bus and rail services compared to large urban areas.
As regards the constant knocking of bus passes by politicians, we take a broader view that the National Bus Pass scheme has benefits for all. This includes making bus services viable for all to use, encouraging bus pass holders to get out and about and spend money, and giving people something back for their lifetime of paying tax. In recent years entitlement to bus passes in England has been pushed back from age 60 to age 65, so we are very encouraged by the new scheme in London whereby from age 60 people can apply for an Oyster Card which effectively reverses the bus pass age limit back to age 60 for those in the London area. At least one major local authority thinks bus passes are worth the cost.
Transport groups in Scotland are calling for government intervention to set plans in motion to introduce smart card technology for use on public transport systems. This smart card technology, known as the Oyster Card in London, was introduced in capital back in 2003. Since its launch, 43 million users have registered for an Oyster Card.
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