On 5 January 2015 Hertfordshire County Council launched a second consultation on proposed cuts to bus services. We opposed these swingeing cuts to bus services that are essential to people for many reasons. This includes journeys to and from work, education or training, visiting friends and relatives, access to all types of medical services and not least, access to leisure activities in towns and the countryside. The consultation ran until 10 April 2015.
Save our buses set up a new petition to give people a voice to enable them to say that the proposed cuts to services are wrong, not necessary and ultimately counter-productive and that petition continued until the end of July 2015.
On Friday, 15 May, campaigners protested outside Hertford County Hall, some dressed as classic fantasy characters including Cinderella and Prince Charming, to show opposition to the planned £1.5 million of cuts to local bus services by Hertfordshire County Council.
A 4,590 signature petition from people who reject these proposals was handed in to the council by campaigners. The councillors, who met to decide the fate of local bus services across the county, ignored the massive opposition to the cuts and decided to go ahead with them as planned – and these started in September 2015.
The 2014 consultation
Hertfordshire County Council launched a consultation in August 2014 that proposed cutting its bus budget by £700,00 and to achieve that bus services on many routes would no longer run in the evenings after 6.30pm on Mondays to Saturdays and would not run at all on Sundays.
We objected to this short-sighted and potentially damaging plan that could severely restrict people’s travel opportunities. We called on the council to review its plans and find ways to maintain a usable bus service for the people of Hertfordshire.
A petition was started, hosted by 38 Degrees, that generated 3,800 signatories by the time the consultation closed. The petition closed, following the start of the new petition, with over 4,200 signatories.
The consultation closed on 8 October 2014 and on that day we held a demonstration outside County Hall in Hertford. We handed in the petition to Councillor Terry Douris, the chair of the Highways and Waste Management Panel. The panel met on the 4 November, when we also demonstrated outside County Hall, and attended the meeting. The result of the meeting was to hold another consultation on new criteria with a range of options for cutting services – which includes cutting a further £800,000 from the bus budget.
Why is the Council wrong to cut bus services?
Hertfordshire County Council underestimates the damaging effects the proposed cuts to bus services will have on people’s lives. The cuts will affect bus passengers from all walks of life including the young and old, the disabled and injured, those that rely on buses as part of their daily life – to work, school, college, hospitals, doctors and health centres, and a whole host of shopping and leisure activities. The consultation process was a sham, with little effort to conduct an effective publicity campaign to raise awareness of it or make it accessible to those who need buses most.