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Transport Minibus Fund

Volume 603: debated on Thursday 10 December 2015

The community transport minibus fund will provide over 300 organisations with a new minibus so that they can continue to provide the vital services that they offer. Approximately 70 organisations whose vehicle requirements are very specific will be grant-funded to purchase their vehicle and we have started delivering vehicles to these organisations already. The competition to supply the remaining vehicles commences next Monday.

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer, but will he ensure that Lancashire County Council is aware that this scheme can be utilised? It is currently proposing to cut the subsidy to rural buses and others even though it has almost half a billion pounds in reserves.

Like my hon. Friend, we fully understand the vital role buses play in our community. The community transport fund is to help not-for-profit organisations continue to meet the needs of passengers who may otherwise have no access to public transport, but may I draw my hon. Friend’s attention to the £250 million a year bus service operators grant, which the Government provide and the purpose of which is to help run bus services that may otherwise not be viable? I cannot instruct Lancashire County Council, but I hope it is considering how to apply this funding in a way that can reach rural areas that need a good bus connection to help improve their economic growth and social inclusion.

Derbyshire County Council is to cut the funding for community transport from April next year, which will see Erewash Community Transport in my constituency lose nearly £150,000—a similar story to that of my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lunesdale (David Morris). This is yet another attack on the elderly and vulnerable by Derbyshire County Council, which is playing politics with vital community services. Ahead of my Westminster Hall debate next Wednesday, will the Minister agree with me that we should be supporting these services, not cutting them?

My hon. Friend is, as ever, a significant champion for her constituency, and we agree fully on the merits of supporting buses.

Following on from that question, is the Minister aware that the real culprit in this business is the Tory Government? They have cut Derbyshire County Council’s grant by—are you listening?—£157 million. Give Derbyshire the money back and we can sort everything out in the whole county.

I do enjoy the hon. Gentleman’s interventions. I am sure he was very formidable—when he was in his prime. It is up to Derbyshire County Council to organise its own priorities, and we should be focusing on issues that make a difference.