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Public Transport (Lancashire)

Volume 497: debated on Monday 12 October 2009

The Petition of the customers of Rossendale Transport,

Declares that the announcement by Rossendale Borough Council, that they plan to test the market to ascertain the interest in Rossendale Transport Ltd with a view to a possible sale of the company, is against the wishes of the thousands of people who have signed this Petition; notes that Rossendale Transport is one of the few local authority-owned bus companies which makes a profit; believes that if such a sale were to proceed it could seriously jeopardise public transport services in the Rossendale Valley which are essential to those without access to a car, particularly the young and the elderly; and further declares that up to 200 jobs could be put at risk.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to take any necessary action to prevent Rossendale Borough Council from selling off Rossendale Transport.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Janet Anderson, Official Report, 20 July 2009; Vol. 496, c. 721.]

[P000398]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport, received on 14 August 2009:

I understand that the situation with regard to Rossendale Transport has changed significantly since this petition was delivered to Parliament.

On the 28th July 2009, Rossendale Borough Council announced that they had decided to halt its test marketing exercise of Rossendale Transport Ltd, having concluded that indicative valuations made by a number of third parties did not meet their expectations. The Council will therefore retain its ownership of Rossendale Transport Ltd.

I entirely share the views of the petitioners that public transport is absolutely essential to a great many people, and the Department continues to work closely with operators and with local authorities to maintain standards in public transport services.

In general terms, it is for local authorities to decide the best model for buses in their area, and since the enactment of the Local Transport Act 2008, local authorities no longer require the approval of the Secretary of State to sell municipally owned bus operators. I believe that this change in legislation is entirely appropriate, and that locally elected councils are much better placed than central government to decide how to obtain the best quality of service, and the best value for money, for local residents.