'South Yorkshire buses are not fit for purpose' – Labour councillors will support franchising assessment 'once financial implications become clear'

Barnsley Labour Councillors said they will not back a Liberal Democrat motion calling for the council as whole to support the franchising of buses across South Yorkshire until the financial implications become clear.

Friday, 26th November 2021, 6:50 am
Updated Friday, 26th November 2021, 10:59 am

Councillor Hannah Kitching, leader of the Barnsley Liberal Democrat group, submitted a notice of motion to yesterday’s (November 25) full council meeting at Barnsley Town Hall.

The motion called on the council to inform the South Yorkshire Combined Authority of its support for conducting a statutory assessment of franchising for the region’s buses.

Read More

Read More
Sheffield buses: North south divide as London buses get far more funding than Sh...

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Campaigners rallied outside Barnsley Town Hall to demand councillors vote in favour of a motion which commits the council to deliver on the findings of its South Yorkshire Bus Review.

Campaigners have called on Dan Jarvis in his capacity as South Yorkshire mayor to take back control of privately-run bus services, and hoped Barnsley councillors would to back their cause through the motion.

A review, released in June 2020, gave leaders across South Yorkshire three years to make a decision about bringing buses into public control.

Next month marks the halfway point towards this deadline, but campaigners say there has been ‘no progress to date’, and fear time is running out to deliver on recommendations made in the review.

However, the Labour group submitted an amendment to the motion, which was accepted, stating that the motion would only be implemented ‘once the financial implications become clearer and their impact on the Council’s finances and on taxpayers is considered to be reasonable’.

Councillor Kitching told the meeting she was ‘disappointed’ that the motion needed to be brought to council, as it was asking for the Labour authority to ask the region’s Labour mayor to implement the findings of the review.

“Public transport is a lifeline to many, many people in our borough who do not own cars,” added coun Kitching.

“South Yorkshire buses are not fit for purpose.

“We would simply like this council to declare its support for conducting a statutory assessment for franchising.”

Councillor Sir Steve Houghton, labour Leader of the council, told the meeting that he hoped the region does ‘get into a franchise position’, but added he won’t ‘bankrupt the council’ to do so.

“I suspect most members in this room would like to see public transport be just that – public,” added Coun Houghton.

“Franchising of buses is a very long, very complex, and a very, very expensive process.

“I would like to go down that route as a matter of principle because I believe in public transport being public [but] I’d like to know what we’re getting ourselves into.

“If you’re going to spend millions, at the very least have some idea of what you’re looking to do.”