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Labour-Lib Dems Criticised For Failings On Buses After Suggesting Parish Councils TAX Residents MORE

The Labour-Lib Dem Milton Keynes City Council has been criticised by local councillors and MPs for deflecting its failure on bus services and MK Connect to parish councils – and suggesting they tax residents more if they want a bus service in their area.

A number of Conservative councillors spoke at Full Council last Wednesday (23rd November) highlighting the lack of buses in Tattenhoe, Woburn Sands and elsewhere, while there have also been issues in Stantonbury, Emberton and Olney.

The leader of the Labour-Lib Dem Council, Cllr Pete Marland (Wolverton), suggested parish councils should tax their residents more if they want bus services in their area.

He said: “I do point out that other authorities that are within Milton Keynes with the ability to precept are also those town and parish councils and if towns and parish councils wish for services to be subsidised within their area they can do so and precept their local residents for that service, just as much as this council can provide funding.”

Cllr Marland was also questioned byTattenhoe ward councillor James Lancaster over the lack of bus service inTattenhoe and again deflected the blame away from the Labour-Lib Dem run city council.

Cllr Lancaster (Tattenhoe) asked: “As it stands today the community of Tattenhoe does not have a single bus service that comes through the area. This prevents my residents from accessing essential services and it’s isolated them, in particular the elderly residents who are unable to get to grips with the technology required to access MK Connect and they rely on these traditional bus services.

“So can I ask the Cabinet Member to share how the Council intends to help those who depend on these traditional bus services and will the Cabinet Member commit to restoring a bus service into Tattenhoe as soon as possible?”

Cllr Marland responded: “I cannot make the commitment that this council can fund bus services in every part of the city and I refer again to my earlier answer. I believe you’re a member of the local parish council.

“The parish council, or if you as a member of the parish council at budget time want to propose an amendment to your parish council budget to provide funding for that bus I’m sure our public transport team would be more than willing to pass on those funds to the private providers who will take profit from that.”

Ben Everitt, the MP for Milton Keynes North, has been fighting for improved bus services and has been engaging with residents and town/parish councils in Olney, Stantonbury, Emberton and Stoke Goldington on the issue and is frustrated by the council’s deflection from their failings.

He commented: “It’s incredibly frustrating that Milton Keynes City Council is passing the buck on bus services to Parish Councils and suggesting higher taxes on local residents, while at the same time its own MK Connect isn't working for so many residents in Milton Keynes.

“MK Connect may work for some people but far too often it is letting my constituents down, especially in the rural areas of Milton Keynes – it just isn’t reliable enough for vulnerable people who rely on these services to get them to school, work and health appointments.

“It is typical of the Labour Party to suggest residents should pay higher taxes and once again they’re passing the buck on their own failures.”

Iain Stewart, the MP for Milton Keynes South, said: “It is not surprising to hear that the Labour and Lib Dem administration are suggesting increased taxes on residents, it is the same story in Milton Keynes – more taxes on residents for less in return.

“My inbox is regularly filled with constituents complaining about MK Connect not turning up and, if it does arrive, being extremely late. I won’t even go into the difficulties to book one in the first place.

“To think that Milton Keynes City Council wants to run its own bus service when MK Connect is so inconsistent and undependable, I would encourage them to walk before they run and address the failings of MK Connect.

“On a positive note, I am thankful for all the Conservative Councillors who are holding this administration to account and representing the views of their residents who want reliable public transport.”

David Hopkins, the leader of the Conservative Group on Milton Keynes City Council and councillor for the Danesborough and Walton ward, added: “Town, Community and Parish Councils are structured in many sizes with budgets to match. In my ward I have a council with an income of around £13,000 per annum and another with an income in excess of half a million pounds. To assume each can subsidise bus services in equal measure is a nonsense, especially as they are also being asked to subsidise landscaping and other services as well.

“At MK City Council we are blessed to receive many millions of pounds in income from city centre car parking charges – the way we should be involving our Parish Councils is to ask each how best that money can be spent supporting bus services in every parish – especially from those most remote and distant parts of the city area.”


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