Tuesday, 21 March 2006

New travel scheme launched

Redcar and Cleveland Council is investing a total of £2million in a new consessionary travel scheme, which comes into operation from April 1.

It will provide free, all day bus travel on most bus services across and within the boroughs of Redcar and Cleveland, Middlesbrough, Stockton and Hartlepool.

The current pass will automatically be valid for the new scheme until it expires. The new free pass can be obtained at any time during the passholder's birthday month, taking proof of your address to any of the Borough's libraries.

To qualify for a new pass, you need to be a permanent resident of Redcar and Cleveland, over 60 or with certain mobility problems, take proof of age or disability and your address - eg a Council Tax bill, a prescription or bank statement - along with a clear passport-sized head and shoulders photograph to any library. Those with mobility problems may have to apply for a pass.

For more information, contact your local library, ring the Council's Call Centre on 0845 6126126 or access the Council's website, http://www.redcar-cleveland.gov.uk.


Anonymous said...

it's not your scheme. it's the governments.

Chris & Glynis Abbott said...

Unfortunately the Government are not fully funding it even for travel within our Borough. The Council has extended the free travel scheme, at its own discretion, for our residents, to also allow them free travel on most bus services in the boroughs of Middlesbrough, Stockton and Hartlepool.

Our report, therefore, is totally accurate. The Government is in the habit of placing additional responsibilities on local government but it does not provide adequate resourses to fund them.

Anonymous said...

1)yeah, like giving you 75% of your budget and yet you still have to raise council tax for the third year running.

2)And also, would you have implemented this across the whole of cleveland if the government hadn't have brought this new scheme in?

me thinks not.

Chris & Glynis Abbott said...

1). One line comments like this mean nothing. You need to explain the reasoning behind it.

The truth is that the Government has accepted that it has made and error in the way it calculates the funding to Redcar & Cleveland. It under estimated our population by 700.

Council Tax could have been reduced by as much as 6.7% had the Government not got its sums wrong and given us the grant support their own methodology says we should have, They are robbing efficient councils to subsidise inefficient ones.

The effect on the Council adds up to a burden of almost £5m. The bill for additional duties imposed on the Council totals £1.7m - a 3.6% increase on Council Tax. The incorrect population figures cost the Council £1.5m - another 3.5% Council Tax increase. Changes to Government grant formula adds another £1.7m - a further 3.6% increase.

2). The fact is the Council invested £2m to improve the Government scheme and we are providing the service so that passholders can travel across the the three neighbouring boroughs as well.

Anonymous said...

that still doesn't explain £7million worth of cuts either.

Chris & Glynis Abbott said...

Anonymous, this is a friendly blog and we are happy to debate issues with anyone but there needs to be some ground rules.

1). As a sign of good faith we need to know who we are talking to. We will not publish the names of contributors if they do not wish us to but we reserve the right not to publish anonymous comments.

2). The tone of your comments and the fact that they are simply one line sound bites, with no explanation as to what you mean, indicates to us that you are simply infuriated with any good news that comes from Redcar & Cleveland Council and want to lash out.

We are happy to debate points with you but please back them up with some substance. So far you have been well off the mark with the comments you have made.

Your latest remark is also misleading. Simply referring to "£7m worth of cuts" is what I would expect the Labour opposition to say. They have spent the past three years making simple comments like that with no explanation. It is intended to mislead people and is unfair. People are not fools and deserve better than that.

In answer to your point we have, in fact, carried out major administrative changes that have made the Council more efficient and rather than cutting services we have invested in them. This was adequately explained by the Council's Chief Executive in a letter published in the Evening Gazette on Apr 1 2006 and reprinted below:

"The letter from .... Lingdale (Your Say, 24.3.06) repeats a myth that Redcar & Cleveland Council is £7m in the red. This is wholly untrue! Due to working more efficiently we have, in fact, a balanced budget and healthy reserves.

"What we have actually done is make £7m worth of efficiency savings and reinvested £4m in improving services for the care of the elderly, free bus passes and renewing and extending street lighting across the borough.

"The extra £3m of savings covered the cost of inflation. The council tax increase, which raised £1.8m, was needed solely to cover the Government's miscalculation of our population estimates.

"The council is not in the red. Indeed it should be congratulated on such strong productivity gains and reinvestment in improving services.

"If the Government had got its sums right - and they have acknowledged they were wrong - there would have been no need for any council tax rise in Redcar & Cleveland - something I am sure all our council tax payers, as well as the council, would relish."