Sunday, 30 October 2011

"Rolling back the State" Conservatives hoodwink bus users.

I'm sure all of us can agree that we want to be more free from the State. The social contract is that I pay taxes and partake in certain activities to benefit the state such as voting, the census, jury duty, conform to the law and should the worst happen perform national service with conscription. In return the state helps to educate, police, heal etc.

It is about achieving a balance, obviously a state that has no interest in the lives of its citizens is a bad state destined to be overthrown where as a state like Nazi Germany, where the state is ever present and represented in EVERYTHING is also despised and disliked.

Also in these economically tenuous times I can also understand the state withdrawing subsidies from projects and services that are no longer affordable.


Local Conservative Councils are withdrawing subsidies from bus transport across the South East areas, especially to school bus routes.

At last weekend's Southeast Liberal Democrat Conference we heard from delegates from the Reading area and also the Sussex areas of local Conservatives "Rolling back the state" and encouraging children to walk to school instead.

According to delegates this is an ill thought out plan for several reasons.

* Parents would have to cut hours at work so that they could walk their child to school.

* In the countryside many lanes lack footpaths at the side, are not wide enough for two way traffic and with a national speed limit in force it is not safe to walk along for adults let alone children.

* The plans are designed around a circular frame so that all those within a certain radius are exempt from subsidised bus transport. This doesn't take into account geography or roads and although some one may live 2 miles from the school they may live 3 -4 miles by road.

* In Urban areas like Medway where it seems similar cuts may be made, there is also danger with busy roads and crime on the doorstep. I know I wouldn't be happy about letting Sophie walk to school on her own.

What will ultimately happen? Parents will drive their kids in to school thus adding to congestion, doing damage to the environment and costing the tax payer even more money.

In Medway many elderly residents also rely on the network of Arriva buses whose routes crisscross the whole of Medway and even offer a better and quicker alternative to getting to Maidstone than Southeastern trains. Many residents use them to get to shopping hubs like Tesco in Chatham, Asda near Horsted, the Pentagon and Chatham high street, and Aldi in Gillingham (where the car park only has an hour stay on it!).
If Medway Conservatives do "Roll back the state" and cut subsidies to Arriva then it will hit the constituents hard.

The other extreme would be that with a lower subsidy the bus companies may up prices thus pricing many off the buses. I already walk most places as it is cheaper but many don't have that luxury. Public transport MUST be affordable to the public otherwise it might as well not be there.

Needless to say that the Conference voted Against such reform and promised, as a party we would oppose it in our area.

We understand how important public transport is for everybody, we also want to role back the state but not to the detriment of the people.

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