Labour Member Shane Kelly with Councillors Luigi Reale & Sue Oliver at Bedford Station on Monday morning
Hard working commuters in Bedford returned to work this week to be met by yet more unwelcome rail fare hikes. New fares that came into effect on Saturday 2nd January mean that since 2010 the cost of travelling from Bedford to London St Pancras has increased by a whopping 24%.
Figures released by Labour show that the cost of an annual season ticket from Bedford to London St Pancras has risen from £3584 to £4444 since 2010, an increase of £860.
Local Labour councillors have slammed the Tory government for hammering both leisure passengers and commuters.
Councillor Sue Oliver, Leader of Bedford Borough Labour Group said:
“Passengers in Bedford have been hit again and again by eye-watering rail fare rises. Fares have now rocketed by nearly a quarter under the Tories, far outstripping any increase in most people’s pay packets. For many people here, travelling by train isn’t a luxury, it’s how they get to their place of work every day.”
Cllr Luigi Reale, Labour Councillor for Castle Ward, added; “Commuters were told that higher fares would fund investment, but vital projects such as electrification north of Bedford have been delayed for years and passengers are paying ever more to travel on increasingly overcrowded and unreliable trains. Labour’s policy is to bring the railways into public ownership so they can be run for passengers not for profit. Labour successfully established the East Coast mainline as a not for private profit service and returned £1bn to the taxpayer, which proves it can be done. We will continue to campaign for fairer fares, investment in a 21st century railway and giving passengers a stronger voice.”
Labour Member Shane Kelly with Councillors Luigi Reale & Sue Oliver at Bedford Station on Monday morning Hard working commuters in Bedford returned to work this week to be met...
Bedford Borough Labour Councillors plea for Tory MPs to face up to impact of austerity
Bedford Labour Borough Councillors are calling on Bedfordshire Tory MPs to prove they are not as naïve as the Prime Minister David Cameron about the impact of austerity cuts on council services.
A letter from David Cameron to Ian Hudspeth, Conservative Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, in which he expressed his ‘disappointment’ at cuts proposed to frontline services such as children’s centres, museums and libraries has shown just how out of touch the Tory Government is from the impact of their cuts to local council budgets.
Bedford Borough Council has already dealt with substantial cuts to its budget over the past 5 years, and has protected frontline services by reorganising back office functions, sharing services, and reducing staff. Now the council is facing a further steep cut in its resources, the level of which won’t be clarified until the Autumn Spending Review announced by George Osborne on 25th November. Local authorities have been told to budget for a 25% - 40% cut in their grant from central government.
Bedford Borough Labour Group Leader Sue Oliver said; “In September this year we wrote to our MPs trying to make them fully aware of just how damaging the proposed cuts are. Sadly, the responses from Alistair Burt and Richard Fuller were as ill-informed as the views expressed in the letter from David Cameron to his local council. Nadine Dorries did not deign to respond at all.”
Alistair Burt replied to the letter from Labour Councillors; “Bedford Borough Council will need to continue to play its part by working as effectively and efficiently as it can…… I am well aware of pressure on services, not least those affecting adult social care… and I know this is not easy.”
In his reply, Richard Fuller argued that the budget projections for Bedford Borough Council did not take into account increases to revenue from Council Tax receipts and business rates retention. He continued; “I am sure all Councillors will be keen to assist the Mayor in making sensible savings in order to protect vital frontline services.”
Sue Oliver added: “Now the David Cameron has been exposed as being so entirely out of touch with the impact of his Chancellors’ austerity measures on local government, we have to ask whether our local MPs are any more switched on? Richard Fuller is incorrect in thinking Council Tax and business rates retention will make up the shortfall. Do they have any influence or any inclination at all to dissuade their Government from stubbornly pursuing these cuts?”
Councillor Carl Meader, Deputy Labour Group Leader added: “It’s time our local Tory MPs woke up to the fact that this will affect the council services relied upon by their constituents, and any reduction in frontline services the Council is forced to make will be the fault of their own Government. If they want to help the council protect frontline services they have to speak up for the Borough now, before it is too late.”
Bedford Borough Labour Councillors plea for Tory MPs to face up to impact of austerity Bedford Labour Borough Councillors are calling on Bedfordshire Tory MPs to prove they are not...
In 2013, Labour Borough Councillors successfully campaigned for Bedford Borough Council to ensure they pay all directly employed staff at least the Living Wage.
The hourly rate of Living Wage is set nationally by the Living Wage Foundation and is based on the cost of living. Every year this is assessed and this week the Foundation announced the new rate – an increase of 40p per hour to £8.25, applicable to all employees over the age of 18.
Leader of Bedford Borough Labour Group, Councillor Sue Oliver, said: “We welcome the increase in the Living Wage and want to highlight that this is what a ‘Living Wage’ really is. It is regrettable the Government has confused the issue by renaming the National Minimum Wage as the National Living Wage. At £7.20 per hour and only payable to people aged over 25 to call it a National Living Wage is misleading and detracts from the hard work of the Living Wage Foundation and the success of their campaign. I’m pleased that Bedford Borough Council recognises the ‘real’ Living Wage, and is taking a lead as one of the major employers in the area.”
Councillor Yasin, Portfolio Holder for Adult Services, added; “This is a good news story, especially for the care workers now employed by Bedford Borough Council in the homes we took over from BUPA. They now receive the real Living Wage unlike the vast majority of care workers in the rest of the Borough - or the country for that matter.”
In 2013, Labour Borough Councillors successfully campaigned for Bedford Borough Council to ensure they pay all directly employed staff at least the Living Wage. The hourly rate of Living Wage...