By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan
A controversial decision to raise the cost of the Kent Travel Saver bus pass by 21% for the next academic school year has been upheld.
Kent County Council’s (KCC) transport committee met last Friday (February 18) to review the above-inflation rise from £370 to £450 from June 2022.
The Kent Travel Saver provides secondary school students, who are aged from 11 to 16, discounted travel on buses from 6am to 7pm on weekdays. There are around 14,000 pass holders, excluding Medway.
Serious concerns were raised by some councillors, including the Greens, Liberal Democrats and independents, over the financial hit for families.
Cllr Ian Chittenden, KCC’s transport spokesman for the Lib Dems, described the £80-a-year increase as “unreasonable” amid increases of household bills, such as food and energy.
The Maidstone North East member said: “This is happening at a time when families, who can afford less, will have to spend more money.”
Greens county councillor Mark Hood said the “massive hike” will have a negative impact on KCC’s climate change pledge to reach net zero carbon emissions on its own estate by 2030. The UK’s target is 2050.
The Tonbridge member said: “I am worried many more cars will be used for school run journeys.”
At Friday’s meeting, Swale Independents Alliance county councillor Mike Baldock suggested the cost rises be postponed.
Cllr Baldock said he hoped extra financial support could be accessed from Boris Johnson’s government through grants.
But KCC’s cabinet member for transport, Cllr David Brazier, said he could not “undo” an agreement that was made by the full membership of 81 Kent county councillors nearly two weeks ago.
A sweeping majority agreed to push the Kent Travel Saver price up during KCC’s budget meeting at the Detling Showground in Maidstone, on February 10.
It came in light of financial pressures faced to deliver frontline services, such as adult social care, with demand increasing during the pandemic.
On the travel saver rise, Cllr Brazier told KCC’s transport committee on Friday (Feb 18): “If there are consequences, then they are considered to be of lesser importance to make than savings in other areas.”
The pass gives a discount of 25% to 50%, say KCC. Stagecoach and Arriva offer additional free travel at weekends.
The rises will generate an additional £910,000 of income for the county council.
Cllr Peter Oakford, KCC’s cabinet member for finance, added: “We are not in a position to reverse any difficult decisions that we have made.”
Consequently, Cllr Baldock’s motion was defeated as 10 members voted in favour of upholding the price hike, while three were against.
Meanwhile, KCC has agreed to freeze the annual cost of the Kent Travel Saver for children on free school meals. This will not rise above £120.
I also voted against increase at the meeting, tories punching down rather than levelling up
“Levelling up” the rich as usual is the only aim of the Tories.
Terrible decision – if KCC cannot provide sufficient school places for children within easy reach of their homes then the bus pass should be free. This penalises 14,000 children and their parents who have no choice but to pay and encourages even more cars onto the roads.
We are governed and administered by idiots at every level!
That’s the Tories for ya , look after the rich and sod the poor.
We have a prime minister who not a clue if he did wrong he has to wait for investigations to see if he did.
Even today 21/02 he was asked by the bbc if he would chuck his mulity million job in if found guilty and he won’t answer that.
Many of those who voted for them will now suffer so only themselves to blame.
Things go up and unfortunately that means the increases have to be passed down.
It happens in all forms of life but unfortunately people think they should get everything for either free or next to nothing!
Get with the programme ffs!!
Like the power costs that are going up and up because “costs” are being passed on to us the users… yet power companies amazingly then record record profits…
Get with the programme FFS dont be such a sheep and believe this nonsense
Unfortunately, we are a very centralised country. The government in Westminster decides how much money the County Councils have to spend. As a result, the only real difference between Councils run by the Conservatives, or by Labour, or by any number of alliances and coalitions, is the decision about WHAT to cut back.
In this case, KCC cut back financial support for bus passes, so passing on extra costs to the parents of school pupils.
No doubt, worried about how their voters might react ,some of the Conservative councillors express their sadness at having to do it, though, in reality, most can expect to be elected next time. Because they always are! Almost nothing will stop tribal Tory voters voting for somebody, or something, with a blue rosette.
Though, to be honest, I need to find out what happened down in Sandwich a few days ago. Four Town Councillors (Tories, I think!) resigned in despair at their own awful Tory council and were replaced by local Independents. So now there is a non-Tory majority on the Council.
I have no idea really but I suspect that quaint little Sandwich has been run by Tories since, roughly, 1066. But, finally, even there, people get sick of the neglect and the cronyism. So don’t despair! Just enough of the local voters finally clicked even in comfortable, well-off Sandwich! (Yes, yes I know. Nowhere in this unequal country is really ,completely “well-off”. It just looks like it!)
Oh no. What a 5* Toady. Supports what will clearly be remembered in history as the “Austerity Party” the worst in living memory. As a supporter of this “I quote Angela Rainers description in the Commons” you are a disgrace to society. We could go on but we think that most residents have a very clear picture what the Tories have done to the people of the UK.