The Petition of residents of Bishop Middleham and Fishburn,
Declares that the Petitioners believe that in order to maintain a reliable rural transport network in County Durham additional funding needs to be provided for rural bus services.
The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to ensure that there is funding in place to maintain the provision of reliable rural bus services in County Durham.
And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Phil Wilson, Official Report, 25 January 2012; Vol. 539, c. 270.]
Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport:
The Government continue to provide significant funds for local bus services in County Durham and elsewhere through bus subsidy for operators and via the national concessionary travel entitlement, which was protected in the budget.
In many rural areas, community transport can play a valuable role in preventing isolation. I therefore strongly encourage local councils to work in partnership with operators and local communities to examine how more flexible services might be provided.
To facilitate this, my Department recently announced a further £10 million fund for community transport in rural areas. This is in addition to the £10 million allocated in March 2011, of which Durham County Council received a £182,191 share.
I recognise that local councils are making difficult decisions in the light of reductions in revenue support from the Department of Communities and Local Government, but they do have almost total discretion about which services to value when budgeting for the future. These are decisions which must be made locally, in consultation with the public.