Howarth attacks government on concessionary fares

January 26, 2009 10:23 AM

David HowarthCambridge MP David Howarth will launch an attack on the government today (Monday) accusing it of negligence in the way it has funded the concessionary bus fares scheme.

Although a firm supporter of the scheme nationally, he will accuse the government of leaving Cambridge City Council and others across the country to bear the brunt of its costs.

He will call on the government for a fairer funding deal for Cambridge during a debate in the House of Commons.

"I am a great supporter of the concessionary fares scheme," he said, "but the government has been negligent in the way it has funded it.

"This scheme has cost Cambridge City Council £1.5 million since April last year - 21 per cent of the money it raises in council tax.

"The council does not only have to pick up the costs for tourists visiting the city, but also for journeys which start in Cambridge but cross boundaries into rural areas as well. Other councils are receiving more money for the scheme than they are passing on to the bus companies.

"In the past, the government has said that councils should sort out this amongst themselves, but that will not happen. The councils that have the money are not just going to hand it over to the councils that are losing out. The government, which caused the problem, has to act."

Cambridge City Council leader Ian Nimmo-Smith said: "I am delighted that David is taking up this issue with the government.

"While we totally support the concessionary fares scheme, the cost is crippling our finances. It has much greater implications for the council than the whole Icelandic bank issue and lost interest."

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