Julian has written to North Yorkshire County Council regarding the replacement Pennine bus service.
Here is the text of his letter to Chief Executive Richard Flinton:
Mr Richard Flinton
North Yorkshire County Council
27 May 2014
The demise of Pennine buses is causing very serious challenges for people’s lives and the economy in Craven. You will have seen the strength of feeling and concern that there is about this issue from the many letters I have sent on to you, from representations from Craven members at County and through the press.
From constituents having to give up jobs because they are unable to get to and from work, people ceasing their charitable activities because they are unable to get home after they volunteer, to missed hospital appointments, doctors appointments and social engagements, the list of disruption is far reaching. From Gargrave to Settle, Embsay to Carleton, and Skipton to Malham, many of my constituents have had their lives very seriously disrupted.
I acknowledge that North Yorkshire County Council has tried to find new operators and, having failed to do so, is now providing its own services. County-run replacement services are clearly better than nothing but I am very concerned that unless a fuller timetable is revived and a further effort made to bring in a commercial operator, then lives will be disrupted even further and the long-term viability of these routes will be so reduced, as people make alternative arrangements, that potential operators will not see sufficient business to make it worthwhile them bidding for these routes.
I have asked local communities to build evidence of demand and to reach a consensus on their priorities for service enhancements but meanwhile I want to ask urgently that later services be introduced on the Embsay, Carleton and Settle routes in order to ensure that those needing to return from Skipton at the end of the day are able to do so. I would also like to discuss the Council’s plans for direct bus operations and how it is balancing operating these with looking for commercial providers.
In addition, I want to explore urgently a proposal made by Kirby Lonsdale Coach Hire for the 580 and 214 services that I enclose with this letter. I understand this proposal has been sent to North Yorkshire County Council and is currently being looked at. Whilst it is not my position to suggest which provider or contractor is suitable for these routes, I would like to discuss with the Council why proposals like these cannot be taken up and, if there are financial gaps, how these gaps may be bridged and how I can help. I understand that this proposal could be introduced almost immediately should the Council wish to do so.
I would also like to discuss why school services on some routes, such as the service to Malham, are not accepting members of the public should spaces be available.
I suggest we meet as soon as possible in order that we can work out how best to return the former Pennine timetable to as full a service as possible. I am sure there will also be broader issues of subsidy and funding that you will wish to raise me and as always I will continue to represent these and fight for the best deal for our County from Government.
I look forward to meeting with you in the coming days.
With best wishes
JULIAN SMITH MP