Stagecoach threaten legal challenge over 'unlawful' Wales cuts

WALES’ biggest bus operator, Stagecoach, today threatened a legal challenge over plans by the Welsh Government to make "brutal, flawed and unlawful cuts" to the country's concessionary travel scheme.

The company has given the Welsh Government a deadline of April 1 to re-think its decision to set a new rate at which bus operators are reimbursed, which would result in a £24 million cut in the scheme's budget, or face a potential judicial review.

According to Stagecoach, lawyers have written to 10 local authorities in Wales including Newport, Torfaen, Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent and Monmouthshire, who are responsible for implementing the concessionary travel scheme, pointing out that following the Welsh Government’s new guidance would be unlawful.

Last month, the Welsh Government, confirmed a three-year funding package of £189m for its bus travel scheme which provides free travel to more than 720,000 concessionary pass holders in across Wales. The budget has been cut by over 11 per cent from the £213.3m package provided over the past three years.

John Gould, managing director of Stagecoach in Wales, said: “We want to protect people from the devastating impact of these brutal, flawed and unlawful cuts.

“Ministers will be collectively responsible for job losses and cutting people off from accessing vital education, employment and health facilities."

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “The new rate, recommended by an independent review, maintains the principle that bus operators who take part in the scheme are no better and no worse off. Any operator who believes they may be adversely affected by a local authority’s reimbursement arrangements have the right to appeal to Welsh Ministers.”

Comments (3)

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6:36pm Wed 19 Mar 14

Aquarius says...

The usual mealy mouthed double think from the Welsh Government. How 'independent' was their review?

Most bus companies in Wales have confirmed that cuts to the reimbursement rates will lead to service cuts and probable job losses. Similarly, cuts to local authorities in bus support means that councils have less to subsidise the socially necessary but commercially unviable routes.

But of course, its the bus companies and local authorities that will get the blame for that.....

People should understand that the Welsh Government is cynically using the availability of 'free' travel as a constant bribe to voters. Yet, what they are doing behind the scenes means that, ultimately, there will be less bus services to actually use the passes on. Nice one, Welsh Government - but not everyone is as stupid as you seem to think they are.

There are less and less reasons to vote Labour with every passing week in Wales.
The usual mealy mouthed double think from the Welsh Government. How 'independent' was their review? Most bus companies in Wales have confirmed that cuts to the reimbursement rates will lead to service cuts and probable job losses. Similarly, cuts to local authorities in bus support means that councils have less to subsidise the socially necessary but commercially unviable routes. But of course, its the bus companies and local authorities that will get the blame for that..... People should understand that the Welsh Government is cynically using the availability of 'free' travel as a constant bribe to voters. Yet, what they are doing behind the scenes means that, ultimately, there will be less bus services to actually use the passes on. Nice one, Welsh Government - but not everyone is as stupid as you seem to think they are. There are less and less reasons to vote Labour with every passing week in Wales. Aquarius
  • Score: 4

11:45am Thu 20 Mar 14

-trigg- says...

"We want to protect people from the devastating impact of these brutal, flawed and unlawful cuts"
Translated version: "We want to protect our balance sheet from being reduced by £24m"

Whether that reduction would result in fewer bus services being provided is a separate issue, and one that would need to be looked at in far more depth than I can manage here.
"We want to protect people from the devastating impact of these brutal, flawed and unlawful cuts" Translated version: "We want to protect our balance sheet from being reduced by £24m" Whether that reduction would result in fewer bus services being provided is a separate issue, and one that would need to be looked at in far more depth than I can manage here. -trigg-
  • Score: -3

12:50pm Thu 20 Mar 14

Frankfurt says...

I think that this free bus pass scheme is too generous in any case. I can't see the justification for free passes at age 60. Making the entitlement coincidental with receiving the old age pension would be better and save a lot of money judging from the figures given in the news item.
I think that this free bus pass scheme is too generous in any case. I can't see the justification for free passes at age 60. Making the entitlement coincidental with receiving the old age pension would be better and save a lot of money judging from the figures given in the news item. Frankfurt
  • Score: -4

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