YEP Letters: February 13

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Check out today’s YEP letters

Chance to voice aspirations on bus services

Cllr Keith Wakefield, Chair, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee

West Yorkshire Combined Authority has long recognised the important role bus services play in underpinning our economy and communities and the need for a better integrated transport system with London-style ticketing and information.

We have demanded improvements from bus companies, and remain committed to working with them to improve local bus services, with simple value-for-money integrated ticketing, smartcards, comprehensive information, modern low-emission vehicles and high standards of customer service.

At the same time we were developing the case for franchised services by considering a Bus Quality Contract Scheme, liaising closely with other areas with the same ambitions.

However, the rejection in November 2015 of proposals to introduce a Quality Contract Scheme in Tyne and Wear, replacing de-regulation with locally franchised bus services, showed that the legislation relating to a Bus Quality Scheme was too expensive and cumbersome.

As a result, the Government is seeking to replace much of current legislation through a Buses Bill during this Parliament which replaces the term ‘Quality Contract Scheme’ with ‘franchising’.

The Buses Bill will make franchising a realistic option as well as strengthening the role of local authorities in any partnership arrangement with bus operators. WYCA is helping to shape the Bill.

We expect the Bill would avoid the high cost of the current legislation, enabling a local authority to have an affordable scheme and demonstrating value-for-money in replacing de-regulation with the franchising system used across most of Europe.

A recent study by consultants KPMG, for the Department for Transport, highlighted the need for a careful assessment of all available options for achieving better bus services.

We will soon be launching a West Yorkshire wide public consultation to help draw up a new 10 to 15-year Bus Strategy that sets out what we want to achieve from West Yorkshire’s bus network.

We will be seeking views through a consultation exercise in the spring and hope everyone, especially bus users, take the opportunity to voice their aspirations.

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Flying in the face of science

Mike Harwood,Leeds 5

RE: ‘When it comes to Brexit, it’s time for a clutch, not a break’ (YEP February 12, Neil Hudson).

In the light of the weather which has been suffered in Yorkshire, in the south west, in Cumbria and in the rest of the country (and in other countries) in recent years, to describe global warming ‘as the great myth of our times’, with respect, is not just rather silly, but to fly in the face virtually all reputable scientific opinion.

As to European legislation, whether a piece of legislation, national, European or international is desirable or ‘ludicrous’ is often at least in part a matter of subjective opinion. But anyone who has a little care for the environment and those who live within it, or has care for ordinary workers and their right to decent conditions of work will, I have no doubt at all, be able to recognise the huge benefits which European Directives and other legislation have brought us. I give but two examples picked at random out of myriads.

The European Commission is now proposing legislation to make products and services more accessible to the disabled persons. ‘The products and services covered have been carefully selected in consultation with citizens and civil society organisations as well as businesses. They include ATMs and banking services, PCs, telephones and TV equipment, telephony and audiovisual services, transport, e-books and e-commerce.’

With respect, is Neil going to quibble with that, especially when compared to the treatment meted out to the disabled by the present UK government?

Secondly, the European Directive of 1986 (86/278): This provides for the testing of sludge used in agriculture and of the soil where it is being used, lays down parameters for the amount of metals acceptable in such sludge and provides that it should not be applied to growing fruit and vegetables. With respect, if Neil or his family have English fruit or vegetables in their diet, is he going to quibble with that? Or would he rather have toxic metals in his salad? Is he going to quibble when comparing such EU concern for our environment with the readiness of our present government to attack sustainable energy provision and prefer fracking (pumping out more fossil fuel not to mention perhaps the odd earthquake)?

System is being abused

A Hague, Leeds 9

REGARDING the letter of Ernest Lundy about the possibility of charging £10 for a visit to your doctors (Yorkshire Evening Post, 8 January).

He suggests a £5 charge, refunded if a good reason exists for not turning up. I think we should pay £5 but £10 if you don’t turn up or give notice 24 hours beforehand that you can’t.

The system has been abused for far too long and it’s our taxpayers who lose out footing the bill.

YEP Letters: May 20