Category Archives: Uncategorized

Bus pass age increase in Scotland looms nearer

NICOLA Sturgeon has refused to give a guarantee that the free bus pass will be available to all over 60s following a review.

The Scottish Government is currently looking at the provision of concessionary bus travel, which is available to everyone over 60 and other groups including disabled people.

Ms Sturgeon said the bus pass had to be sustainable and said everyone who currently has one will keep it – but she refused to say if the current age eligibility criteria will remain the same.

The First Minister was asked by Labour MSP and leadership contender Richard Leonard about the government’s plans for the free bus pass.

He asked if she would give a commitment that eligibility criteria would not change within this parliament, which lasts until 2021.

Ms Sturgeon said no decisions will be made until the consultation is complete and that the government was “asking people across Scotland for their views on how best to ensure that the bus pass is sustainable for the long term”.

She added: “Whatever the outcome, nobody’s bus pass will be taken away from them and, indeed, some people who do not currently qualify for a bus pass will do so in the future.”ead more

Our take on Barbecues for Vegetarians

Fred Robson here – it isn’t often that we write off the topics of bus passes and pensioners benefits, though noting the ongoing interest in my last effort on Recycle coal dust and make the Winter Fuel Allowance go further in 2011 I have decided to offer my take on Barbecues for Vegetarians, due in no small part to my wife being a vegetarian, and myself a keen meat eater who also appreciates plenty of veg in the diet.
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Doubtless there are many recipes and instructions available on-line (Jamie Oliver describes his as The Ultimate vegetarian BBQ but my menus are very flexible as to which vegetables should be used. I’m taking more about cooking technique which can offer excellent results. The cooking method is very much around using foil containers which can be purchsed very cheaply from suppliers such as Wilko or can be recycled from your takeaway meals.

A good variety of vegetables are needed for my solution, including onions,tomatoes, baby sweetcorn, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, mange tout peas, broad beans, mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, courgettes, aubergines – in fact any that you happen to have to hand.

Step 1 Put a dash of cooking oil in the bottom of each foil tray
Step 2 Prepare the veg and chopping to reasonably small size Veg in foil trays

Step 3 Fill the trays with veg fairly full, mixing different veg in a random way
Step 4 Sprinkle herbs and seasoning to taste
Step 5 Add garlic to suit your taste
Step 6 Seal the foil containers with the lids, silvery side down
Step 7 Place the foil trays on the BBQ at a fairly early stage, but aiming as far as possible to cook slowly as far as possible. This way your veg can be served in their natural juices.
On the BBQ
A bit of trial and error will improve your technique and avoid to much ‘caramelisation’ !
BBQ Veg
One other important tip – don’t regard this as something just for vegetarians, as your family /guests will come to appreciate this alternative method of enjoying veg alongside their meat.

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Bon Apetit as the foreigners say !
Bus Passes Blog editor

The wheels on the bus could come off for pensioners, warns Roger Ratcliffe / Big Issue North

As clear as I can remember it, this is a fragment of conversation between two elderly ladies I overheard last week on the number 737 bus, which runs from Bradford Interchange through Shipley, Guiseley and Yeadon to terminate at Leeds-Bradford Airport.

“They’re coming after your bus pass next.”

“Who is?”

“The Tories. They want to end free buses for all old folks. They’re saying it costs too much. I read it somewhere.”

“Well, I certainly won’t vote for them if that’s their game. It’s getting terrible. They don’t want pensioners any more.”

The women were not on their way to the airport to jet off to the sun. They were just using their bus passes to get to the nearest supermarket. The 737 is a vital lifeline for them, since more and more small shops keep closing. As far as I know, however, the Conservatives have not said they intend to withdraw or cut back on the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme. At least, not officially.

The scheme gives free off-peak, weekend and bank holiday journeys to anyone of pensionable age, as well as eligible disabled people. But in their eternal, sleepless quest to cut back on government spending the Conservatives are clearly discussing the possibility of undoing what even Tony Blair’s harshest critics grudgingly admit was one of the great achievements of his last government.

It was introduced in 2008 and currently costs around £1.2 billion a year to fund. There are just under 10 million users and the average cost per person each year is £120. Four-fifths of those people who are eligible actually use a pass, and the scheme is credited with keeping many bus routes viable. If travel pass eligibility were to cease or be restricted, it would lead to bus timetable cutbacks.

Since the election in 2015 some Conservative MPs have begun muttering about the need to reduce the amount of money it costs. Andrew Mitchell, he of the Plebgate affair – which saw him allegedly engage in a foul-mouthed altercation with police guarding the gates to Downing Street – told a TV interviewer at last year’s Tory conference that the passes should be means tested. It raised eyebrows at the time, because no one in the Conservative Party was talking openly about restricting pensioners’ benefits.

overfull A&E departments in NHS Hospitals

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Nurses at NHS hospitals are treating patients in corridors because of severe overcrowding in A&E departments.

Footage taken by the BBC shows patients waiting more than four hours to be seen at Royal Blackburn Hospital, where at one point last week 33 beds were available for 95 seriously ill people.

Nurse Danielle Turner told the broadcaster: “We actually have corridor nurses now as well, which shows times are very desperate”.

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Early use of bus pass to be charged at £1 per journey in Bedfordshire

CHANGES to discount travel passes in Bedford borough are set to come into force next month.

The English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) allows disabled and pensioner pass holders to travel free of charge on bus journeys where the journeyis made between 9.30am and 11.00pm Monday to Friday or anytime on weekends or bank holidays.

This part of the scheme is not changing.

But Bedford Borough Council had previously subsidised pass holders’ travel in addition to the national scheme to allow them to use buses for free at any time on journeys within the borough. This initiative is being altered.

READ MORE:£2.7m budget cuts as Bedford council tax rises

ENCTS pass holders travelling before 9.30am on weekdays will now pay a contribution of £1 per journey toward the cost of their journey as of February 1, 2017.

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Angry villagers sign petition after scrapped bus service leaves them ‘isolated’

RESIDENTS in a North East Lincolnshire village say they have been left feeling isolated after a bus service into Grimsby was scrapped.

Hundreds of villagers in Tetney have signed a petition in protest over the decision, with many calling for a reduced service to compensate after the village was removed from the list of stops on Stagecoach’s number 51 service.

The Louth to Grimsby bus service, which originally stopped in Tetney each hour between 8.52am and 3.52pm from Monday to Saturday, was cancelled by Stagecoach because they claim it has been “undermined” by a subsidised bus service run by Franklin College for its students.

But residents in the village say the decision will leave many people, especially the elderly, feeling more isolated.

More news: A third of workers in North East Lincolnshire earn below the living wage

Trish Bulmer, 58, of Fern Mews, said: “It’s awful really. I hate to think that I can’t get out.

“I can ask my neighbour for a lift into town but it’s not the same as going under your own steam. It gave older people their independence.”

The number 51 service, which previously picked up passengers at the village’s Plough Inn in, stops at Grimsby hospital, meaning many villagers could use the service to attend vital hospital appointments.

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Poorest pensioners to lose at least £300 a year in ‘new bedroom tax’

Poor pensioners and bedroom tax


Thousands of poorer pensioners will be hit by a new “bedroom tax”, despite the Government’s promises to protect the elderly from the hugely controversial benefit cuts.

They are poised to lose at least £300 a year because their homes will be deemed to be “underoccupied”, slashing their incomes or forcing them to move – away from family and friends, or to flats that are unsuitable for older people.

In some cases, the financial pain will be greater – one housing association has identified pensioners in part of the North who are set to lose a staggering £1,700 a year.
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Former Tory health minster calls for £5 billion additional funds for NHS

The NHS should be given a £5bn ($6.4bn) “Brexit bonus” as campaigns on both sides of the EU referendum promised the health service would be better off, Lord Lansley has demanded.

The former Health Secretary made the comments as he delivered the annual NHS Providers lecture last night (22 September).

“For political reasons, both campaigns told the public that whatever was going to happen in the future there would be more money for the NHS. So the public have a right to expect it,” he said.

“They have a right to expect a Brexit bonus for the NHS. Given that we won’t leave until 2019 at the earliest. It can’t be before 2019 fiscal year

“But it should be then and from then onwards and it frankly should be no less than £5bn a year.”

The official Brexit campaign, Vote Leave, was criticised during and after the EU referendum for the suggestion that £350m a week could be spent on the NHS, a slogan printed onto their battle bus.
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Our comment: The NHS seems to be creaking, concerns abound. So why aren’t politicians recognising we want a decent health service ?

SNP misrepresentations over oil exposed

Whose fault is it, I wonder, that Mr Salmond is now confirmed as having attempted the biggest deception in modern political history by arguing a case for Scottish independence that was based on entirely bogus claims about future North Sea oil revenues? Fortunately, he failed.

The UK government will receive less than £1 billion a year in oil revenues for at least the next five years. This compares to the Scottish Government’s insistence that the revenues in 2016-17 alone would amount to between £6.8 – 7.9 billion. The Office for Budget Responsibility now estimates £600 million for that year – surely a record-breaking miscalculation by the Scottish Government of over 90 per cent.

Nicola Sturgeon blithely states that “everyone’s projections about oil were wrong” as if that magically exonerates the deception to which she was a leading subscriber. But, anyway, her memory is highly selective. The scale of the fall may be even greater than anticipated but it was the downward trend which the Nationalists stood alone in denying and were prepared to denigrate anyone who dared contradict them.
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Bus company dives in with bus pass to help 20 year old champion

A DIVING champion and Olympic contender has received a boost from his local bus company.
British Men’s 1m Springboard Champion, Oliver Dingley, from Canvey Island, has been awarded an annual travel pass from First Essex to give him unlimited free bus travel around the county.
Oliver, who narrowly missed out on selection for the London 2012 Olympics due to injury, travels regularly across Essex for training, coaching, competing and visiting schools and diving centres.
The 20-year-old said: “I am very grateful for the support from First Essex. The travel pass will not only help me get around, but will also help save money that will go towards developing my future in diving. I hope to help promote the positive community activities that First Essex are involved in.”
Nigel Barrett from First Essex said; “We are always supportive of local talents such as Oliver. He is an extremely bright prospect, not just for Essex, but for the whole country. We’re extremely excited to be given the opportunity to support Oliver in his training for competing on the world stage.”
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