Suffolk County Council Cabinet MUST reconsider Rural Transport “New Model”

On the 13th October, Suffolk County Council Cabinet are meant to reconsider their decision to implement a “New Model” for Suffolk Rural Community Transport provision as a result of the successful scrutiny call-in from the Labour Group.

The proposed “New Model” advocates changes to the tendering process for community transport in Suffolk’s rural areas, and entails a drastic 50% reduction in funding over 5 years. Meeting on the 2nd October and receiving cross-party support from Labour, Liberal Democrat, UKIP and Conservative members, the Scrutiny Committee voted in favour of referring the decision back to Cabinet for further deliberation on the grounds that there had been no public consultation process and that an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) was seriously flawed.

Cllr Sandra Gage, Labour Spokesperson for Roads Transport & Planning, said “Public transport is too valuable and essential to those who rely upon it to live independent lives for it to be offered up to the ‘Market’”.

Labour Group Leader, Cllr Sandy Martin, said “The cross-party vote to send this back to Cabinet is a clear indication that there are serious problems with the “New Model”.

Cllr Martin added, “We are determined that Cabinet will actually take the Scrutiny Committee’s decision seriously.  In the past they have simply dismissed councillors’ concerns about Children’s Centres and other matters.  If they believe in democracy and a transparent Council, they need to seriously debate these issues tomorrow”.

Cllr Sandra Gage concluded “Labour Councillors have successfully challenged the County Council to think again; if they don’t and vote to continue at tomorrow’s Cabinet it’s a clear message that the County Council Tories put bus cuts before communities”.

Timeline:

  • 15/09/15 Cabinet Decision to Implement “New Model”
  • 16/09/15 Labour Group ‘Calls-In’ Decision
  • 02/10/15 Labour Groups ‘Call-In’ is upheld by Scrutiny Committee and Referred back to Cabinet
  • 13/10/15 Cabinet to Reconsider Decision

Reasons for Scrutiny Committee decision:

  • There has been no consultation process with community transport users, with particular regard to vulnerable and disabled users, in breach of the Equality Act 2010. Therefore, Cabinet do not have sufficient information to be able to take a viable decision
  • The Equality Impact Assessment used in the decision making process to highlight the impact of proposed changes on the user looks at organisational/structural reforms to transport provision in Suffolk, but does not take in to account the effect or impact of the proposed 50% reduction in budget.

Scrutiny Committee Vote:

  • For 5
  • Against 4
  • Abstain 2
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