Headlines: June 11th, 2007



A call is being made for local people to be given the means to shape and improve their bus services by giving elected councillors new powers. It comes in a pamphlet published by the think-tank the New Local Government Network.

The author, NLGN Senior Researcher James MacGregor, argues first for rigorous local consultations and decisions to replace the present top-down national approvals process on contracts and partnerships. In future, he writes, bus plans should be the subject of consultation through Local Strategic Partnerships, which would shift the balance of power towards locally elected representatives and their local partners. He believes, too, that this would ensure service improvements were made faster without undermining national strategies.

He goes on to put the case for making public subsidies more effective if there was a system for organising them through the Local Area Agreement process. Such a step, he says, would also guarantee that all the partners in the policy process, both local and national, would be signed up to any strategy that was being followed.

James MacGregor said, “There is still too much national control over local bus arrangements, which is not only superfluous but also prevents the rigour and scrutiny needed to drive forward improved services. If local residents and partners had a greater say over the routing and frequency of bus services, we believe improvements in quality could come quicker, without jeopardising the legitimate strategic objectives of national Government.”