Letter: We refuse to be treated like third-class peasants
This letter sent to the Star was written by Mike Smith, South Yorkshire Freedom Rider and transport campaigner, Park Grove, S70
At the recent Barnsley Transport Users Group a representative from Northern rail was asked why, according to the South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis, the company was asking for £18 million a year in order to restore the full train travel concession to the elderly. The representative confessed that he didn’t know and suggested we should ask for a meeting with Northern. This was duly done. The response was a very curt, No. However, freedom of information requests to Greater Manchester the East Midlands and Liverpool, where elderly concessions have been running for years, revealed that the cost in Greater Manchester with double the number of pensioners we have in South Yorkshire costs £1.2 million a year. Northern rail, the dominant train service provider in South Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside, (where the elderly receive their bus and train concession from the age of 60 for £11 million a year), inexplicably wants £18m from South Yorkshire when six years ago they were quite happy to receive £329,000 a year for the full concession. No wonder we don’t believe it.As Northern rail has refused to meet the Freedom Riders we call upon the Sheffield City Regional mayor Dan Jarvis, to fully exercise his responsibilities and duty to be open and honest with the people of South Yorkshire, publish the full details of the minutes of the meetings he says was present at where the £18 million requirement was discussed. was this a suggestion from Northern or from anyone else present at the meeting? Furthermore, we ask Mayor Jarvis for a full written explanation as to why Northern rail are quite happy to receive £1.2 million for 600,000 pensioners in Greater Manchester’s concession but require £18 million for 300,000 pensioners in South Yorkshire.Northern Rail’s view six years ago was that the concession’s restoration should not leave them worse off. The Labour Party’s view is that because we are old being worse off is no more than we deserve. The 600,000 pensioners in Greater Manchester clearly have value and are are valued. Those in Liverpool even more so. The elderly in South Yorkshire, an area designated the most deprived in Europe, aren’t worth consideration, representation or fighting for.Except by a stubborn group of pensioners who refuse to be treated like third class peasants.