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Local elections 2022: Warnings of potential further bus network cuts as South Yorkshire mayoral candidates clash on campaign trail UK News

Organized by The Star, Doncaster Free Press and the Local Democracy Reporting Service, four aspiring mayors answered questions about a range of issues in front of students at Sheffield College which were broadcast live to the South Yorkshire public.

David Bettney of the SDP, Simon Biltcliffe of the Yorkshire Party, Joe Otten of the Liberal Democrats and Oliveer Coppard of Labor clashed as Election Day draws closer to May 5.

Overhauling the bus network and public transport more broadly will be a main policy area for the next mayor to tackle and candidates were asked how they would work alongside operators and how they would secure short-term improvements .

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Candidates who want to be the next mayor of South Yorkshire are applying to students at Sheffield College.

All the candidates support public scrutiny, but Coppard and Otten said there was a “real risk” of further cuts if patronage does not increase and Covid-19 subsidies end. The Labor candidate went further and said the region could potentially lose up to “a third” of the network in the worst-case scenario.

The Yorkshire Party’s Simon Biltcliffe, like many candidates, wants public control of the network and is working towards a bus franchise system – making decisions about where buses go, setting fares and better serving communities without a service appropriate bus.

“If you talk to the bus operators, the system doesn’t work for them either.

“If you’re looking for a short-term one-year time window, then you’re working in a consensus way to understand the businesses of the operators and their opportunities that they can do to improve how they can be innovative in less costly ways. attract more people to the buses.

Election campaign candidates. (LR) Joe Otten, Liberal Democrats – Simon Biltcliffe, Yorkshire Party – Oliver Coppard Labor and David Bettney, SDP.

“Operators want to make them more efficient, they are not the enemy, they are also part of the solution.”

Otten, of the Liberal Democrats, said he wanted to take control so the investment in the network had the best chance of paying off. But he issued a stark warning about the network’s near-term future if the government stops Covid-19 subsidies before patronage increases.

“Stagecoach has issues with the franchise but I listened to a guy from First the other day and he said it came with a health warning if we wanted to control the buses and we would take a load of risk – I want control but that assessment is perfectly true,” he said.

“In the short term, this risk is amplified as the Covid-19 subsidy is coming to an end and there is every danger that if the number of passengers does not increase, we will not be able to maintain the network that we already have.

The six candidates who want to become the next mayor of South Yorkshire. (Top left) Bex Whyman, Green Party – Oliver Coppard, Labor – Joe Otten, Liberal Democrat – David Bettney, Social Democrat – Simon Biltcliffe, Yorkshire Party and Clive Watkinson, Conservative.

“That’s the worry and it should worry us all. We can still talk about our plans for a better bus network, but if the clientele does not pick up, we will talk about how we can keep the network we have.

Labour’s Coppard added: “I want to do politics differently and that means telling people the truth.

“I’d love to say I’d fix the buses in six months… but that’s just not true.

“Bus services in South Yorkshire are currently not suitable. They have gotten worse since privatization in the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher decided to shut down the system we had here where you could go anywhere for two pence.

South Yorkshire’s next mayor is expected to improve the area’s bus network. Many candidates support putting the network under public control.

“Joe is correct that the grants will end in September and if that happens we could potentially lose a third of our network.

“In the short term you can make sure the bus lanes work better, we want zero tolerance for harassment from bus staff, but outside of those things you tinker around the edges.

“Fundamentally changing how buses operate in South Yorkshire is under public scrutiny. People can then decide where they are going based on their needs and not the profit of the bus companies. »

Bettney of the SDP, added that there were “no short term fixes” and that a forensic review was needed on the business model to initially see how services can be run better for the same money.

He also supports the idea of ​​public control of the network.

“You can’t plan a business saying you’ll quickly fix things in six months. It would probably take the full span of four years to slowly move away from the current model to be publicly owned.

The candidates are in favor of public ownership of the bus network and the establishment of a bus franchise system.

“We always talk about how we need more money for many areas of society, but we are lean…

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This notice was published: 2022-04-26 17:28:49

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